Nicktown, PA-based AeroFab Inc. manufactures and processes parts for the defense and aerospace industries, concentrating in building structural components for defense aircraft.
Capabilities range from the manufacturer from traditional machine shop services, such as sheet metal fabrication, to precision machining, forming, and assembly. In-house production processes include passivation, painting, heat-treating of aluminum, and chemical conversion coating.
This company, which started up in 1994, continuously looks for ways to keep its workers safe and learned about the OSHA On-Site Consultation program from the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (or WEDnetPA).
The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities, such as in the Pennsylvania OSHA consultation program, work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.
During the June 2016 initial walkthrough of the AeroFab Nicktown facility, PA OSHA consultants identified machine guarding, electrical, housekeeping, and improper labeling hazards.
With the consultant’s assistance, the company corrected all of these hazards. They fixed exposed wires and a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet, put cones around the heat treat area, labeled containers properly, installed guards on unguarded equipment, and cleared exits and routes.
AeroFab also developed and implemented a formal incident investigation procedure based on an internal quality assurance process. To improve business practices, AeroFab incorporated an existing Quality Assurance “5 Why” system to address recordable injuries, first aid injuries, and near miss reports. This system also formed the basis for developing an internal process to collect first-aid injury data to help identify trends. AeroFab also created an action plan to establish and track safety goals and provided training on objectives for administrative staff and management to improve safety awareness.
In addition to providing training to staff regarding lockout/tagout procedures, ladder safety, and hazardous materials communication, AeroFab created a hearing conservation program to protect their workers from hazardous noise. The company also developed a process for improving shop inspections and container labeling.
Finding extra time to take on additional safety responsibilities proved to be a challenge. To lead by example, management increased their involvement in safety issues and stressed that getting the job done right means getting the job done safely. People from all levels of the organization played a role in identifying areas of improvement, recommending safety enhancements, and improving the safety culture. Including everyone in these efforts helped get buy-in for making changes.
AeroFab was accepted into the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in February 2018. SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement that identifies a company as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers.
By participating in the SHARP, AeroFab has become more aware of the value of good safety practices and the positive economic impacts they have on the company.
To achieve SHARP status, a company must have injury and illness rates below the national average for its industry. AeroFab’s three-year Total Recordable Case (TRC) average was 2.7 and their 3-year average for Days Away from Work, Job Restriction or Transfer (DART) rates was 0.9. In comparison for this period, the Bureau of Labor Statics reports the national average for this industry was 5.7 (TRC) and 2.8 (DART).