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Orbeco-Hellige, Inc. 'Works Judiciously' and Earns First SHARP Award

When it comes to safety, fresh starts can often bring positive changes. Sarasota-based Orbeco-Hellige, Inc., a manufacturer of water and wastewater analytical laboratory testing instruments, earned its first SHARP award after relocating to Florida from New York in 2008.

Orbeco-Hellige_SHARP_January 2011

As a new firm to the Sunshine State, company president Bradley Martell made safety a top priority. "He 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," says Richard Donoghue, technical specialist. Donoghue was assigned the task of developing a safety and health management system, and he did his homework and then some.

In 2009, he contacted USF SafetyFlorida for a comprehensive safety and health analysis. The company received its first on-site consultation, made its suggested corrections, and later earned a Sunshine State Safety Recognition Award from USF SafetyFlorida. Mr. Cay-Peter Voss, president of Orbeco-Hellige’s parent company, Tintometer GmbH of Dortmund, Germany, was on hand for the award presentation and was impressed that the company took safety as seriously as Tintometer GmbH.

After earning the Sunshine State, USF SafetyFlorida's Mark Leon recommended that the company aim for OSHA's SHARP award. To take their program to the next level, Donoghue says it used all assets available, including their insurance company, OSHA's small business handbook, a chemical disposal firm and even the Manatee Fire Department. "Our motivation was to ensure that we were diligently covering safety and to work judiciously to be recognized for that safety effort." In 2010, that effort was recognized when the company was SHARP certified.

Since making safety its top priority, one significant change can be found in the company's chemical storage area. Before, any employee could walk through the room that houses liquid bases and acids used to make reagents. Now, only authorized personnel are allowed, and Donoghue says chemicals are better labeled and inspected for expiration dates. Other safety measures introduced include safety classes, a safety committee and a company appointed fire marshal. The Manatee Fire Department still comes annually for its fire extinguisher training, and Donoghue says employees no longer are fearful of how to operate an extinguisher. Even an employee who was hesitant at first about using an extinguisher to put out a training fire now loves to use it, and is comfortable knowing she has been trained and is ready in case of a real fire, he adds. Proof positive safety fresh starts can be a good thing.