Orbeco-Hellige Earns First SHARP Award

Company: Orbeco-Hellige

Location: Sarasota, Florida

Employees: 17 full-time workers

Success Brief:

Orbeco-Hellige (Orbeco), a manufacturer of water quality instrumentation and reagents, received its initial visit by the University of South Florida (USF) On-site Consultation Program in August 2009. Since then, the company's top priority has been its commitment to implementing safety and health management programs in order to provide a safe working environment for its employees. As a result of its efforts, Orbeco earned recognition in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) On-site Consultation Program's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in 2010.

Brad Martell, President of Orbeco-Hellige said, “It is important to have a facility that is safe and follows OSHA's safety and health [requirements]. After working with USF, Orbeco's workers compensation rates are below average and there are no injuries to report. Furthermore, maintaining an accident-free workplace contributes to Orbeco's high employee morale.”

Company Description:

Orbeco is a manufacturer of water quality instrumentation and reagents, (NAICS 334516, Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing) used in wide variety of applications: water, pool, and spa analysis, as well as color measurement. The company moved from Farmingdale, New York to Sarasota, Florida in August 2008 and has seventeen full-time employees.

The Situation:

Mr. Martell's background as a scientist helped him recognize the importance of having a well-trained and prepared workforce to handle safety issues from the start of the operation. When Orbeco moved to their new location in Florida in 2008, the company hired Richard Donoghue as the company's safety specialist. Mr. Donoghue said, Mr. Martell “let it be known that for us to be successful and grow our business, we needed happy and healthy employees who would come to work and know that their safety came first as we grew.”

Upon reviewing Orbeco's safety and health management programs, Mr. Donoghue found them to be outdated and determined that the company needed to do a complete overhaul of the programs. Mr. Donoghue learned about the OSHA On-site Consultation Program through on-line research. This federally funded program, which offers free and confidential services to small and medium-sized businesses, is available to employers in all U.S. states and several territories. USF SafetyFlorida (USF) administers the OSHA On-site Consultation in Florida. After conversations with their insurance company, Mr. Martell decided to contact USF for a comprehensive on-site consultation safety evaluation in support of the company's efforts to operate a safe and healthy work environment.

The Solution:

A USF safety consultant conducted the initial consultation visit at Orbeco in August 2009. During the walk-through, the consultant observed safety and health hazards related to electrical equipment including the absence of lock-out tags for certain equipment and damaged electrical distribution strips. The consultant also identified the need for additional fire exit signs and proper chemical storage. Orbeco corrected the hazards identified by the USF consultant within 30 days.

A USF industrial hygienist consultant also visited the facility and trained Orbeco's lab technicians to ensure the lab was in compliance with OSHA's safety and health standards for chemicals. With help from USF, Orbeco organized and stored hazardous and non-hazardous materials in a specific and secured location.

Since the time of the initial visit and with assistance from USF's On-site Consultation office, Orbeco continued to develop and implement comprehensive safety and health management programs. By maintaining its focus on administering effective safety and health management programs and thereby providing a safe worksite for its employees, Orbeco earned a State safety award from USF in 2009. After earning this award, USF recommended that the company seek SHARP status.

With their sights set on SHARP, Orbeco continued its efforts to improve its safety and health management programs. The company conducted safety training sessions and worked with the local fire department to review fire safety guidelines and to learn how to properly use fire extinguishers. A safety committee was instituted to keep the staff abreast of workplace safety and health issues. "Our motivation was to ensure that we were diligently covering safety and to work judiciously to be recognized for that safety effort,” said Mr. Martell.

Over the next year, Orbeco continued to enhance its safety and health management programs. As a result of its efforts, Orbeco earned SHARP recognition on December 3, 2010.

The Impact:

Since being recognized as a company implementing exemplary safety and health management programs, Orbeco has experienced an increase in employee morale and participation. “Through weekly safety meetings and management's open communication and commitment to safety, the employees report that they know Orbeco is dedicated to a safe workplace,” said Mr. Martell.

Orbeco continues to benefit from low workers compensation claims and has maintained a rate of “0” for both Days Away, Restricted and Transferred (DART) and Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) for reporting years 2008 through 2010, The 2009 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics national industry average for NAICS 334516 DART and TRC was 1.0 and 2.0 respectively. “USF On-site Consultation Program has had an outstanding impact on Orbeco” said Mr. Martell.


Steve Miller, Marketing Specialist, Orbeco-Hellige, Sarasota, FL