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Carroll, Iowa-based Leer Incorporated is an employee-owned business that manufactures retail ice merchandising equipment and walk-in coolers and freezers, distributed under the Leer and Carroll Cooler brands.

Customers for the 63-employee company include contractors and dealers who install coolers and freezers for convenience stores, grocery stores, general cold storage, as well as environmental and scientific applications for temperature-controlled storage.

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The Carroll Cooler (CCI) facility first opened in 1986.

Other Leer facilities had experienced positive results from working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), On-Site Consultation Program, so CCI reached out to Iowa OSHA (IOSHA) On-Site Consultation for assistance with lowering injury and illness rates and to enhance overall workplace safety for employees.

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OSHA’s 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, such as the Iowa Division of Labor, or universities 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 March 2004 initial visit, IOSHA consultants identified electrical, maintenance lift, and air line fittings hazards. The company corrected these hazards, working closely with the consultants, coming into compliance with OSHA standards, and purchasing equipment to do so in some cases. A number of business practices changed. For example, new employee training methods were developed, and a safety committee was formed that included personnel from all levels of the organization.

“This effort helped us improve our attitudes about safe work places,” said David Miller, plant manager. Changing management and employee attitudes proved to be one of the biggest challenges to implementing the revised safety and health management system. Encouraging everyone to voice their opinions and recommend solutions proved effective in this area. Today, the CCI safety culture reflects a total change, improving employee and company commitments to safety.

Working with IOSHA paid off for CCI in a number of ways, such as greatly improved safety records and employee morale.

In addition, the company has not had any lost time injuries since December 4, 2009. In turn, reducing reportable injuries and improving safety conditions contributed to lowering worker’s compensation insurance premiums dramatically.

In 2011, CCI earned its first designation as an OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) participant, and has maintained that position. The most recent renewal occurred March 1, 2018. This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary safety and health program. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles the company out among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.

Acceptance into SHARP requires companies to have injury and illness rates below the national average. From 2016 through 2018, CCI’s Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) averaged 0.0, and their Days Away, Restricted, and/ or Transfer Rate (DART) also averaged 0.0. In comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a national average for NAICS Code 333415 was a TRC of 3.0 and a DART rate of 1.7 for this period.

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