Montana Department of Labor and Industry Consultation Program Helps Company Pave the Way to SHARP

Company: Western Emulsions

Location: Billings, Montana

NAICS Code: 324121 - Asphalt Paving Mixture and Block Manufacturing

Number of Employees: Onsite-10 Controlled-240

Western Emulsions
Employees standing in front of the facility.

Western Emulsions is a supplier of sustainable asphalt emulsions solutions for pavement preservations, repair, and recycling. Western Emulsions manufactures and supplies a full range of branded and standard asphalt emissions and other value-added services to a wide range of public agencies and private companies. The company's locations in other states had worked with their On-Site Consultation programs and in September of 2022 Western Emulsions in Montana had its first Consultation visit with Montana Department of Labor and Industry Consultation Program.

Montana Consultation conducted safety and health visits over the next three months. Noise and chemical sampling were conducted with no overexposures found. The consultants identified safety hazards that included a drill press with a missing rotating chuck guard, oxygen and acetylene tanks stored improperly, containers not labeled with the correct chemical information, and issues with documentation on overhead cranes were found. The company corrected all hazards. Although no overexposures were found, the company began rotating employees exposed to asphalt to reduce any exposures. Employees also wear hydrogen sulfide badges to measure levels for the duration of their days. The badges alarm if an overexposure occurs at any time.

Western Emulsions was recognized into the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in September of 2023. SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Small businesses that achieve SHARP status receive a deferral from OSHA or the State Plan programmed inspections for the period that the SHARP designation is valid. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP is an achievement that identifies the employer as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers.

Working with the On-Site Consultation Program has reduced Western Emulsion's workers' compensation insurance premiums as well as the number and cost of claims. The Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) and Total Recordable Case (TRC) rates for the facility remain well below the industry average. The safety culture onsite continues to improve and management buy-in and support is high. The site is experiencing elevated employee and management engagement. The company details and tracks corrective actions to completion. Employee communication on safety issues has also increased. For example, employees can be heard throughout the site talking to each other over radios about safety issues.

Companies interested in SHARP can contact their local OSHA On-Site Consultation program to discuss details and schedule an onsite safety and health evaluation. OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards and how to fix them, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, train and educate workers, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from OSHA enforcement efforts. To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit