Cassemco Inc., Tennessee OSHA’s (TOSHA) first Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) participant, is still with the program today and just ended up renewed.
The goal of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Safety Awards and Recognition Programs is to stimulate interest in accident prevention and to promote safety and health in the workplace.
In June 1998, TOSHA Consultative Services performed the first-ever SHARP evaluation in Tennessee at Cassemco in Cookeville.
The consultation team made recommendations for improvements at the site, and the company not only corrected the identified hazards, they took their workplace safety program to a higher level. In December 1999, Cassemco earned OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program, Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award, and the company has maintained their SHARP status ever since.
In the past 18 years, while working with TOSHA, much has changed at Cassemco. In 2006, they moved to a newer building on the south side of Cookeville. The company transitioned their business from making foam components for automotive and sporting good applications and expanded into foam orthopedic soft goods and positioning products for the medical and home health industries.
Cassemco opened in 1975 and Barbara Tetreault, owns the company. This woman-owned, small business is also ISO 9001:2008 Certified. Cassemco has 22 employees.
Key to any effective safety and health program is management and employees committed to workplace safety and health.
This commitment drives the workplace safety program and makes it part of the culture and the operations of the organization versus just having one person in charge in safety. Shared commitment gives more “safety champions” on the floor and a feeling of ownership for the safety and health of others. This open share of information can spill into other areas, such as quality, production, and employee retention.
Cassemco’s partnership of management and employees in safety is something people at the company remain proud of.
“Even though Cassemco is a small factory, we have high standards for our products and especially our clients. All that we have accomplished over the years with the help and assistance of TOSHA, has benefited our clients and helped our employees stay safety conscience,” said Jerry Samon, Cassemco general manager. “By receiving the SHARP award 16 years in a row, that proves how much the Cassemco family values our employees. We have come a long way, and we strive to continue with TOSHA’s standards and keep being awarded the SHARP flag in the future.”
“I remember the first time we received the SHARP award. It was certainly a happy bunch of people who gathered outside to have our picture taken that day,” said Eleanor Hooks, Cassemco production coordinator, shipping & receiving supervisor. “A lot of things have changed over the years – products, machinery, people – we even moved into a newer building. But one thing remains the same, Cassemco’s commitment to providing a safe working environment.”
“I have worked at Cassemco for almost 20 years, and things have improved for the better,” said Ronnie Holman, Cassemco power press operator. “With moving into the new building, we have not only increased our production, but also increased the safety and cleanliness of the environment.”
“I have worked in many different types of manufacturing companies over the years that have had to comply with OSHA standards. But when I came to Cassemco, I wasn’t expecting those same standards in a smaller company,” Cassi Lynn, Cassemco quality and safety representative. “In the larger companies, OSHA is thought of as just another thing/job that employees have to do to make the supervisors happy. No one really thought of the safety of their surroundings unless it came to their own person.”
SHARP requires the employer have injury and illness rates below the national average for their industrial classification. Cassemco has had zero recordable accidents in the past three calendar years and nearly 150,000 work hours. With a national total recordable case rate of 4.9 for their industry, Cassemco has effectively prevented injuries to 20 percent of their workforce in the past three years compared to the average of their peers.