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Continuous Improvement Helps Suncoast Beverage Sales Receive First SHARP Award

Suncoast Beverage Sales received a SHARP award in May from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and USF SafetyFlorida. This is the first time the Anheuser-Busch beer distributor has earned the SHARP recognition, which is given to small to medium-sized employers with exemplary safety and health management practices. The company is based in Fort Myers, Florida, and employs 160 workers.

Suncoast Beverage Services_FY 2013 SHARP

USF SafetyFlorida's David Ashman (left) presents Suncoast Beverage Sales with the OSHA SHARP flag. (From second left to right): Tom Crep, vice president of operations; Greg Mitchell, vice president and general manager; Clayton Harrison, fleet manager; Tracey Wells, vice president of human resources and delivery services; and Tim Mitchell, president, attended the company's SHARP award ceremony.

Suncoast Beverage Sales first contacted USF SafetyFlorida in 2009, after Tracey Wells, vice president of human resources and delivery services, attended a workplace safety seminar hosted by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. The company wanted to ensure it was “doing everything possible to provide a safe and healthful work environment for all employees,” said Wells. “We also understood the importance of utilizing such a valuable resource to assist us in improving our existing processes and systems.”

USF SafetyFlorida’s Mark Leon and David Ashman assisted the company with its initial on-site consultation and subsequent follow-up visits. Although a few hazards were identified in 2009, Wells said the company’s continuous improvement efforts resulted in no hazards being found later on.

Earning the SHARP recognition has been a goal for Suncoast since its initial visit. Wells and Tom Crep, vice president of operations, recognized then the need for greater management and employee involvement in the safety and health process. The company made a concerted effort to bring safety to the forefront and changed its corporate culture as a result.

Wells said it has stepped-up its safety and health management system. “Prior to our partnership with USF SafetyFlorida, we had established safety training, programs, manuals, inspections, safety meetings and safety newsletters. Working with USF, we started utilizing Form 33, created safety action plans, improved our hazard analysis, conducted all employee safety meetings, increased safety training, set annual goals and developed shadow programs and process improvements.”

The partnership also assisted in its reduced DART rates. In 2011, the company saw a 36 percent decrease—dropping from 9 to 5.7--in its DART rate from 2010. In 2012, that rate dropped even further to 4.7, making the company eligible for SHARP status.

“We have truly benefited from the experience with the On-site Consultation program. Our consultants were knowledgeable and experienced, and worked with us to help us achieve our goal of becoming SHARP certified,” said Wells.

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 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.