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Goal to Achieve ‘World-Class Safety Culture’ Leads to Partnership Between Sypris Electronics and USF SafetyFlorida

Sypris Electronics received a SHARP renewal in June from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and USF SafetyFlorida. This is the third time the circuit board assembly company has earned the SHARP recognition, which is given to small to medium-sized employers with exemplary safety and health management practices.

Sypris Electronics_2013 SHARP

Sypris Electronics' EHS committee includes (left to right): Dan Germond, Joe Herguth, Greg Hartman, John Flint, Chris Kwiatkowski, Valerie Sisk, Mary Lee and Nate Jackson.

The Tampa based company offers advanced engineering services and manufactures ruggedized electronic products and electronic systems for the aerospace and defense industries. It employs 220 workers at its Florida headquarters. Other facilities are located in California, Colorado, Maryland and Denmark.

Sypris Electronics began working with USF SafetyFlorida in 2008 when its environmental health and safety committee pushed to achieve a world-class safety culture. Chris Kwiatkowski , EHS engineer, said the company applied for SHARP certification to recognize employees who were driving the right attitude towards safety and to also grow a positive safety culture throughout the organization.

USF SafetyFlorida’s Mylene Kellerman has been consulting with the company since 2008. After its initial consultation, Kwiatkowski says the EHS committee became much more involved with day-to-day safety awareness efforts. “The committee grew to incorporate different areas of the organization and took on more proactive efforts.” Safety audits evolved from being a tick-list to a more focused process on employee engagement and training opportunities. “One critical component of Sypris’s safety philosophy is their simple principal that safety starts with the frontline worker. Whether you are a manager or a site worker, you need to be vigilant, and you need to always have safety at the forefront of your work,” says Kellerman.

“Having the SHARP certification gives a sense of pride throughout the organization; all members of the team push to keep our safety performance headed in the right direction,” says Kwiatkowski. He adds that having a partner in safety, like USF SafetyFlorida, is a good way to maintain a proactive approach to injury and illness prevention and a place to communicate concerns and ideas.

Kwiatkowski offers this advice for companies considering the SHARP program: “Change is always a difficult hurdle to overcome, but once the results of having a good safety management system had been recognized, it was easy to get the reluctant employees on-board.”

Sypris Electronics has seen first-hand the benefits of engaging in occupational safety and health. Its DART rate dropped from 1.3 in 2010 to .3 in 2012. Furthermore, workers’ compensation claims have also dropped by a significant 98 percent.

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.

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