Grass America’s Jason VanTorre is just one of the workers benefitting from an increase in safety awareness and procedures.

Grass America, Incorporated, makes functional movement hardware and accessories, such as hinge systems, soft close drawer systems, and drawer slides, for kitchens, baths, and offices.

The Kernersville, North Carolina, facility employs 154 employees and it operates in 263,000 square feet.

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Grass America first worked with North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDoL), Safety and Health Consultation Program in 2007 and had good results with their Total Recordable Case (TRC) rate dropping by 75 percent over the next 5 years (from 12.9 to 3.9).

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After a few years, though, the company noticed rates were rising.

In 2014, the TRC rate was 9.4, so Grass America called in the NCDoL, Safety and Health Consultation Program, to assist again. Their consultants conducted full-service visits in 2015 and again in 2017.

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 local agencies, such as the NCDOL Safety and Health Consultation Program, 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.

“Over the years, our company’s crane and forklift inspections and use have greatly improved, said Dean Shore, Environment, Health, and Safety Manager for Grass America. “The safety and health culture has dramatically improved throughout the years that we have worked with the on-site consultation program. This is so obvious in our total recordable case rate, which is on a great downward trend, that we are striving to continue.”

For 2015 through 2016, Grass America’s average TRC rate was 4.25 and their average days away from work, days restricted work activity or job transfer (DART) rate was 2.8. In comparison, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the national average TRC was 4.9 for NAICS Code 331221, and the national average DART rate was 2.2 for this period.

“Our workers compensation insurance claim numbers are one-third of what they were four years ago before we entered SHARP,” said Shore. The workers comp claims were $202,647.96 in 2014; $101,323.98 in 2015; and $67,549.32 in 2016; and lower in 2017.

The 2017 visit went well, and Grass America was accepted into the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in January of 2018. This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary safety and health programs. 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.

“We are so thrilled to have been awarded SHARP status. After the years of work that we put into improving, this feels great,” Shore said.

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