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Great Southern Wood of Florida Earns its Second SHARP renewal

Great Southern Wood’s Bushnell, Florida plant is owned and operated by Great Southern Wood – Bushnell, Inc. Known best for producing YellaWood® brand pressure treated pine (using a copper based preservative), Great Southern Wood provides a wide variety of pressure treated building products to lumber yards and building supply centers across Florida.

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Just a few years ago, Great Southern Wood’s plant in Bushnell, Florida, had an injury and illness rate that was higher than the company anticipated in light of its dedication to safety. Because low injury and illness rates reflect a safe workplace and an effective safety and health management system, a few pointed words from the owner gave the management team all the inspiration it needed to make improvements in the plant’s safety procedures and injury/illness rates. Production manager, Sean Odell, says it was made clear to him when he became the Florida plant’s production manager that GSW expected them to achieve the SHARP award. “I want that award,” he recalled CEO and GSW owner Jimmy Rane saying to him. “You see, GSW feels each of us should have a safe and healthy environment to work in”.

USF SafetyFlorida’s Keith Brown had the privilege to work with the company beginning in 2006. He assessed and evaluated the safety and health programs, the safety and health management system and provide guidance and assistance to improve injury and illness rates.

The good results that followed culminated in renewals of the certification from OSHA’s Safety Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). “To accomplish such an award was not an individual effort,” said Odell. “It took the entire team to attain this. And our team is a big one.” “A company can come up with an endless number of rules for employees when it comes to safety regulations, but those safety regulations are much more effective when employees make a concerted effort to commit to creating a safe work environment,” continues Odell. Employees at the Great Southern Wood plant in Bushnell continue with such a commitment and now have another renewal award to prove it.

The facility renewed SHARP status in 2011 and once again this year. This time around USF SafetyFlorida’s James Ulseth had the privilege to work with the company. A few bad ground faults, bad extension cords and a sign were some of the identified hazards. How did the company handle hazard correction? “We did many things to assist in policing issues that seemed to get over looked as in cords and ground faults. One of the things we are doing is having the guys that work around these areas check them before and after each shift”. “We already had safety walks monthly but most of which were management. Our safety team now is built of loaders, treaters, shipping clerks, and management. By doing so, we see more buy in from all of our team rather than a select few. We added some more videos to our training and took a more hands on approach doing such things as making a small fire and letting the team put it out, showing us how to use locks and tags, practical exercises for lift operators, etc.” continues Odell.

Odell added, “A company can put every policy in place that meets OSHA regulations completely, but it takes each employee making a daily choice to work safely that makes a safety program successful”. The Bushnell employees consistently choose to be safe.

The benefits of earning and being in SHARP? After the SHARP program, the facility went almost 6 years without a recordable injury, and safety concerns and issues started being reported by employees. In 2007 the company spent $46,700 in workers compensation claims. Since then they have spent only $1,655! They also have a safer, happier, more involved team.

“Working with USF SafetyFlorida over the past few years has changed the focus on safety and raised the bar to an entire different level” says Odell.

OSHA gives its SHARP award to small and medium-sized employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. To qualify, a company must do the following:

• request an on-site consultation from USF SafetyFlorida;

• involve employees in the consultation process;

• correct hazards identified by the consultant;

• implement and maintain a safety and health management system that adheres to OSHA’s 1989 Safety and Health Management System guidelines;

• maintain DART and TRC rates below the national average for the company’s industry;

• agree to notify USF SafetyFlorida prior to making any changes to working conditions or introducing new hazards into the workplace.

To learn more about USF SafetyFlorida and the importance of workplace safety and health, visit http://www.usfsafetyflorida.com/