Volume 12, Issue 5 - June 2011


Safety First
Industry Execs Say This Is More Than A Mantra
By Tara Taffera


"Even though our safety performance is better than the industry average, I rate it as a disappointment. We are re-doubling our efforts for improved safety in the coming year."
—David Petratis

There are more than 5,000 workplace fatalities and approximately 3.5 million workplace injuries every year as well as many workplace illnesses caused by exposure to common chemical, physical, and biological agents, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

While some may be lax in their commitment to safety, there are numerous industry companies that have received recognition and awards for their accomplishments in this area. ProVia Door was recently the first company in the glass manufacturing category to receive the Voluntary Protection Program award from OSHA. Ply Gem Canada earned a Certificate of Recognition from the Alberta Construction Safety Association for the development and implementation of safety programs across all its operations in Alberta. The company earned an overall score of 99 percent on its audit, one of the highest scores achievable through the program. Edgetech IG was recognized recently by the Guernsey-Noble Safety Council for more than one million hours without a lost-time injury. The list goes on.

But for every award, there is an employee who was injured or killed due to a workplace accident.

David Petratis, president and chief executive officer, Quanex Building Products, has a personal daily reminder of how crucial it is that all employees make safety a high priority.

He keeps an obituary card for John Hughes, who worked for Schneider Electric until August 8 2001, on his desk. (Petratis served as president of Schneider Electric before joining Quanex.)

“John Hughes was a safety lead,” says Petratis. “He was serving as a service technician on a job site when a small amount of electricity went across his heart and killed him. He did everything right on that job. Even when you are doing things right things can go wrong.”

Taking Safety Seriously
Petratis believes all companies must make place safety initiatives at the top of their priority list.

“One accident is too many,” he says. “You have to set the bar extremely high. Safe living has to be an unconscious act like breathing.”

Petratis insists that safety remain a priority at Quanex. The company has a set of fundamental beliefs that all employees must follow:
1. All injuries and illness can be prevented;
2. All exposures can be safeguarded;
3. Management has a responsibility to train all employees to work safely;
4. Working safely is a condition of employment; and
5. Preventing incidents and promoting health and wellness contributes to business success.

Safe living has to be an unconscious act like breathing.
—David Petratis, president, Quanex Building Products

The approach seems to be working. Since he took over at Quanex in July 2008, the company has reduced injuries by more than 70 percent, but Petratis feels more needs to be done.

“Even though our safety performance is better than the industry average, I rate it as a disappointment. We are re-doubling our efforts for improved safety in the coming year,” he said in his 2010 letter to shareholders.

At Quanex, safety and health initiatives go hand in hand.

The company offers physicals for its employees in which they are checked for obesity and high-blood pressure, among other items. Yearly mammograms are offered for women, and all cholesterol-lowering medication is free.

“I want to move people to a state of healthy living,” says Petratis. “It is important to take preventative measures on the things we can prevent. If I can help educate the workforce on and off the job, for example, ladder safety, and if I can prevent a triple or quadruple surgery by getting people to read the dashboard of their health then everyone is better off.”

ProVia’s president Brian Miller has a similar approach.

“It has always been our commitment at ProVia to do all we can to ensure that men and women return to their families at the end of the day better than when they left in the morning. This includes being healthy and uninjured,” he says.

To that end all ProVia Door facilities qualify for the VPP Star Status with OSHA.

VPP is OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, which promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. In the VPP, management, labor and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system, according to the OSHA website.

ProVia’s Baltic, Ohio, facility, is the latest plant to achieve this status and it is the first of 917 companies in the glass manufacturing category to receive the VPP award.

“In my 21 years with OSHA, I have worked with many companies and ProVia’s employee participation at all levels of the business to ensure workplace safety is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” says Deborah Zubaty, area director, OSHA. “A glass plant is an inherently dangerous place to work and the company has done an excellent job preventing injuries and creating a safe place for employees to work every day.”

"Imagine the time commitment. But to the company
the down time is worth it to keep everyone safe."
—Joe Klink, marketing director, ProVia Door

In 2007, the company’s Walnut Creek, Ohio, facility was the first metal door and window manufacturer nationally to receive the VPP award. Its Sugarcreek, Ohio, location earned the award in 2010.

This most recent award in Baltic marks the end of a five-year process by the company to ensure its facilities meet the highest safety standards.

Although awards and recognition are a good testament to a company’s safety efforts, most companies with a staunch approach to safety take it even further.

Ply Gem Canada earned a Certificate of Recognition (COR) from the Alberta Construction Safety Association for the development and implementation of safety programs across all Ply Gem Canada operations in Alberta.

To meet and exceed the standards outlined in the COR, such as employer policy and management commitment, employee competency and training, hazard identification, incident reporting and investigation and emergency response planning, Ply Gem Canada recently launched a new series of ongoing associate safety programs. The programs include classroom training on safe job procedures, daily meetings for every associate to discuss safety protocol for that day’s projects, an associate mentoring program, and a weekly inspection program by company managers.

“This accomplishment is just the first step in our commitment to an ongoing approach to safety, not an invitation to relax our safety programs. In fact, we’ll be instituting more safety programs over the coming months,” says John Newman, vice president of operations.

Moving forward, the company plans to implement a new behavior-based safety system to measure activities that proactively prevent accidents from occurring. Continual feedback from associates and management will indicate what steps associates take to avoid accidents before they occur. The company set the goal of scoring as high as possible on its COR audits to prove to its associates that there is always room to improve operations.

Employee Buy-In
Educating employees about safety issues and getting their participation is crucial to any safety program.

Petratis says an aggressive approach is absolutely necessary and, for Quanex, that is SafeStart. Through this program safety education is mandatory for all employees including Petratis.

Similarly, associates have responded well to the enhanced safety-first culture at Ply Gem Canada, says Newman.

“Part of the culture at Ply Gem Canada involves open lines of communication, and associates were happy to buy in to the program knowing that they would play a role in shaping the company’s culture through their feedback,” he says. “Their commitment is best represented by their dedication to preventive incident logging. More specifically, Ply Gem Canada associates file near missed accident reports, where they identify the risk factors they faced in cases where accidents were avoided. This strengthens their own working habits and also gives them the opportunity to make suggestions for future safety enhancements.”

The same holds true at ProVia Door.

“This is not just the CEO and VP of operations—this is all the employees,” says Mike Yoder, plant manager at the Baltic, Ohio, facility. “Everyone on the shop floor is involved.”

“For something like this to work it has to be addressed and supported by management. It has to be everyone, and when everyone buys in, it will be successful and that is what happened here,” adds Joe Klink, marketing director, ProVia.

He points out that the facility had five safety committees set up and every employee was on at least one committee.

“Imagine the time commitment,” says Klink. “But to the company the down time is worth it to keep everyone safe.”

At ProVia’s Baltic facility, employees were so enthusiastic about safety initiatives they witnessed at Walnut Creek that they didn’t wait around until it was their turn.

“They were also making modifications so when the time came they were more than ready,” says Klink. “They are not being drug around. They don’t just want to clock in and clock out.

“The CEO, the president—they all buy in to this whole endeavor, which is not inexpensive. But it is an investment they are willing to make,” he adds.

But companies can gain some of that investment back by saving money on items such as workers’ compensation premiums as Ply Gem’s Newman says it did through its participation in COR certification (for more on workers’ compensation costs, see SHARP article below).

In fact, the enhanced safety culture has resulted in an even more impressive record than the 99 percent scored on the Ply Gem Canada COR audit: it has been more than 15 months since the last workday lost to injury at a Ply Gem Canada manufacturing facility.

Tara Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM/Shelter magazine.

It Really is All About Prevention

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) rule that would require employers to implement injury and illness prevention programs.

In fact, according to Robert Matuga, assistant vice president, labor, safety and health policy for the National Association of Homebuilders, this is a top priority for OSHA. He presented an update to members of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and National Lumber and Building Material Distributors Association during a recent meeting in March.

“This is the top priority for OSHA Chief Dr. David Michaels,” Matuga told attendees. “OSHA requested a $2.4 million budget increase in 2012 to develop the I2P2 standard.”

“This rulemaking will provide employers the tools necessary to find and fix their own workplace safety and health hazards. Moreover, this rulemaking is projected to enhance worker’s voice and participation in the process, as well as establish guidelines as well as require employers to implement their own process that proactively addresses workplace safety and health hazards and ultimately reduces workplace injuries and illnesses,” according to the OSHA website.

OSHA says it has substantial data on reductions in injuries and illness from companies that have implemented similar effective programs. The proposed rule will build on successful practices and approaches from OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (see SHARP article below), as well as U.S. and international standards.

Key provisions of the program may include:
• Require employers to systematically identify and remediate risks to workers—-for example, to review relevant safety and health information, develop procedures for inspecting their workplaces for safety and health hazards and investigate accidents;
• Provide workers with opportunities to participate in the program;
• Require that the program be made available to workers so they can understand it and help monitor its implementation;
• Require that employers implement the program so it actually protects workers; and
• Prevent employers from not covering workers by mis-classifying them as independent contractors.
WDMA officials say they are concerned that this can have a negative effect and prove more far reaching than originally intended.

“WDMA remains concerned that I2P2 could profoundly change how manufacturers manage workplace safety,” says WDMA president Mike O’Brien. “The regulation could be so sweeping as to dwarf prior OSHA rulemakings by making employers identify any conceivable workplace hazard, even those not currently regulated by OSHA. This effort could also morph into a backdoor attempt to pursue an ergonomics regulation again, which was previously soundly rejected by Congress.”

David Petratis, president and chief executive officer, Quanex Building Products, takes this important issue even a step further.

“Any company that has an average medical incident rate may as well leave money on the table,” he says. “That is what they are paying out in safety and health compliance. I also think there is a responsibility from government to help weed out some of the fraud that goes on in occupational safety and health. People should be back to work when they are ready. Businesses must be responsible.”

According to Matuga, the proposed rule is likely to come in the third quarter of 2011.

Want to be exempt from OSHA inspections? How about serving as a model for workplace safety? Your organization may want to look into SHARP certification as many companies representing all facets of the industry have done, including door and window manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and moulding and lumber companies. Otherwise known as the Safety and Health
Achievement Recognition Program, this is an OSHA cooperative program that recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system.

“Acceptance of your worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles you out among your business peers as a model for worksite safety and health,” says the program’s website. “Upon receiving SHARP recognition, OSHA exempts your worksite from OSHA programmed inspections during the period that your SHARP certification is valid.”

“The SHARP program is a federal program regulated at the state level that does reward us with reduced worker comp premiums,” says Al Delbridge, EastCoast Mouldings president. “This program also allows us to work more closely with the OSHA inspectors to identify any workplace issues.”

The program also has several additional key benefits (see box at left) including attracting key employees and preventing accidents before they occur.

“Participation in SHARP helps us proactively reduce our accidents and safety incidents over the past few years,” adds Delbridge.

At JELD-WEN, the company says SHARP has also been very influential to its health and safety success. The company achieved its first SHARP Award in 2002 at its millwork facility in Klamath Falls, Ore. Since then, other facilities throughout its U.S. operations have achieved the recognition.

JELD-WEN has reduced its doctor care injury rate by more than 70 percent in the United States and Canada since 2003 and was a finalist for the Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award in 2008 and 2010.

Tecton Products was the first company to achieve SHARP Recognition in North Dakota when it did so in 2005 and it has reaped many benefits since that time.

“OSHA’s program for SHARP provided a path to setting a definable standard, something we felt we could get our associates participating in and feeling involved with,” says David Skaare, director of sales and marketing for Tecton. “We have been enjoying a steady reduction in total incident rates for years now. With fewer incidents we have seen less lost time at work and that has had an impact in positive productivity and lowering of overall costs for injuries and insurance.”

Some of these companies even take it a step further. With a goal of becoming self-sufficient, SHARP consultants worked with JELD-WEN to develop its own audit system. According to Teri Cline, JELD-WEN director of communications, the JELD-WEN Global Audit has been implemented at every JELD-WEN manufacturing facility worldwide.

“We have a comprehensive safety and health program and our audit system involves the review and measurement of all key program elements,” she says. “We incorporated the SHARP evaluation elements and expanded on that foundation to include more than 150 items, which include requirements and best practices from around the world.”

Other industry companies that have SHARP Certification, according to the OSHA website include door and window manufacturers Anlin Industries, Milgard, Custom Window Systems and MI Window and Door. Additionally, SAPA Extrusions, various lumber companies and several ProBuild locations are on the list.

By achieving SHARP status, OSHA says companies are placed in an elite group of small businesses that maintain exemplary safety and health management systems. Following are some of the major benefits:
• Work with OSHA to identify and implement best practices to protect your workers;
• Protect workers from all safety and health hazards that may exist at your workplace;
• Create a better working environment free of safety and health hazards;
• Boost worker morale by involving workers in creating a culture that emphasizes a safe and healthful workplace;
• Improve communication among workers and management;
• Receive official recognition from OSHA for your achievement of SHARP status and for maintaining an exemplary safety and health management system;
• Attract skillful workers looking to join a business that is at the forefront of its industry in providing a safe and healthy workplace for its workers;
• Lower worker compensation insurance premiums;
• Improve worker retention and reduce costly turnover; and
• Reduce worker days away from work to keep operations and production running smoothly.

Don’t Let This Happen to You
Unfortunately, tragic accidents happen but as a result of these incidents, valuable lessons may be learned and policies changed.

JELD-WEN Inc. told DWM/Shelter that JELD-WEN of Canada Ltd. did make changes following an incident in June 2008 in which an employee was injured at its manufacturing plant in Vaughan, Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Labor (OML) levied a $50,000 fine against the company for the incident, which it said violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

According to reports from the OML, the worker was using a table saw to cut a piece of wood at the plant on June 3, 2008, when the incident occurred. The saw blade had a guard on it, but the saw would not make the required cut if the guard was left in place. A supervisor advised the worker to remove the guard to make the cut, according to the OML, and the worker’s hand made contact with the unguarded blade while making the cut. The worker lost parts of two fingers.

JELD-WEN of Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the table saw was equipped with a guard or other device to prevent access to its blade, according to the announcement.

Teri Cline, JELD-WEN director of communications, says the company took all appropriate measures to address the situation immediately following the accident, even prior to the Canadian government’s filing, which was about a year after the incident.

“Although the facility had been in compliance with the required minimum training standards before the accident, JELD-WEN implemented a program that goes above and beyond jurisdictional requirements,” says Cline.

The current training at Toronto involves more formal, written, specific machine operations training and a tracking mechanism to ensure that all employees have completed the appropriate training.

“We continue to be compliant with the jurisdictional safety training standards, which largely involve general, non-specific requirements through monthly employee group training. The injured employee continues to work for JELD-WEN,” says Cline.


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