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Metal Industries, Inc. Earns First SHARP Recognition, Sees Workplace Culture ‘Change for the Better’

Metal Industries, Inc. recently received a SHARP award from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and USF SafetyFlorida. This is the first time the metal fabrication facility has earned the SHARP recognition, which is given to small to medium-sized employers with exemplary safety and health management practices. The Bushnell, Fla., based company offers air distribution products and air terminal units to the HVAC industry and employs 113 workers.

Metal Industries, Inc._FY 2013 SHARP

Employees at Metal Industries, Inc. celebrate the SHARP award it received in February.

Metal Industries, Inc., first contacted USF SafetyFlorida in 2011 at the request of Mel Mitchell, the company’s safety director. “We had a strong desire to improve our safety program,” said Mark Paul, plant manager. To get there, safety and health consultant Jim Ulseth worked with the Metal Industries’ team during its initial walkthrough and follow-up visits. He identified hazards that ranged from unguarded machinery and unlabeled electrical breakers to lockout/tagout procedures, dust exposure and more. The company worked diligently to address and correct the deficient areas, offering training for personnel, labeling areas that needed proper identification, guarding equipment and even purchasing new items, such as a dust collection system.

Since receiving its first on-site consultation, the company identified work areas that needed greater attention from a safety standpoint. It established a safety committee that now performs walkthroughs and engages all employees in workplace safety. “There is not just one ‘safety guy’ anymore, but 113 of them,” said Paul. “Everyone truly cares about safety and watching out for each other, and that is a very rewarding feeling.”

The process for Metal Industries, Inc., wasn’t an overnight one, however. Paul said working safety projects into its plant projects was challenging at first but has now become a part of standard operating procedures. Getting information from forklift manufacturers about using attachments on their equipment was and still is a challenge.

Metal Industries, Inc._FY 2013 SHARP_cake

It has been a two-year journey for the company to reach SHARP status, yet one well worth it. “It has been a great achievement for our plant and company to be participating in this program,” added Paul. “We were very lucky to have Jim Ulseth as a consultant. He provides unlimited insight into safety and how important it is to our success.”

Between 2010 and 2012, the company reduced its number of recordable injuries from 10 to 4. Today, that number is zero. Combine that with a 66 percent reduction in workers’ compensation claims, and the performance metrics are indicating that what Metal Industries, Inc., is doing is indeed working.

OSHA’s SHARP award is given to small businesses with less than 500 employees that demonstrate exemplary workplace safety and health practices. USF SafetyFlorida recommends employers to OSHA that meet SHARP criteria. To qualify, the employer must request an on-site consultation, involve employees in workplace safety and health, correct any hazards identified during the consultation process, and maintain an injury and illness rate lower than its industry average. To learn more about the SHARP program or to request an on-site consultation, visit www.usfsafetyflorida.com.