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Safety Focus is Key to Exactech SHARP Award

As business owners know, evolution is a natural progression for any company. For Exactech, an orthopedic implant and surgical instrumentation manufacturer based in Gainesville, this progression included significant growth as well as a change in production. The company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, began with three employees, one facility and one product, a cemented hip implant that was outsourced to a manufacturer. Today, Exactech employs 550 people in offices around the world and manufactures the majority of its own diverse array of joint-replacement products, including hip, knee, shoulder, and spine implants, to name a few. Its promise: To provide "a great day in the O.R." by improving individuals' quality of life so they can remain active and independent.

Exactech_SHARP_January 2011)

Stacia Madden, Exactech's facilities office manager, says the Gainesville office set its sights on OSHA's SHARP certification in 2009. Having worked before with USF SafetyFlorida's consultation program, management decided SHARP was a logical next step to developing an effective safety structure for audit purposes. "We wanted to be focused and centered on safety so it is at the forefront for our employees," said Madden.

Madden worked with Keith Brown, a USF SafetyFlorida supervisor, to hone areas such as safety education, manufacturing area clean-up and lock-out/tag-out procedures. Combined, these improvements strengthened the company's safety priorities and brought better alignment to its safety and health system. Madden says the process also generated more employee input and buy-in, "a huge, huge, help."

The company's once "traditional safety committee" has today become a 30-person Internal Safety Consultation Team (ISCT), with individuals representing different departments and company locations. Team members communicate actively about specific safety issues and meet quarterly for training. Madden says the ISCT's focus on continuous improvement helps safety remain an integral part of the company's culture--proof that change can indeed be a good thing.