Hugh D. Catty started the Catty Corporation (Catty) way back in 1907. It was originally a cellophane converter business supplying the packaging industry. Things changed in the late 1920s when it partnered with Alcoa to develop aluminum as a viable source for packaging.

Today, Harvard, Illinois-based Catty continues to supply aluminum packaging to the confection, pharmaceutical and dairy industries, serving a diverse customer base, ranging from small privately owned companies to Fortune 500 companies.

On December 17, 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected Catty’s facility, which resulted in $29,400 in fines, with six serious and two other-than-serious citations issued. Catty abated the identified hazards, negotiated the fines, and set the business on a new path to improve workplace safety and processes.

Being a small business, the financial impact of consulting safety and health experts could be significant, therefore, Catty researched alternative resources, including, the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program. Catty Corporation learned about that program from OSHA as a resource available to assist with workplace safety and health issues at no-cost.

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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, such as the Illinois Department 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.

Working Together
From 2015 to 2018, Catty and the Illinois On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program worked together to institute changes. At first, this was not received well and upper leadership was concerned that OSHA had been invited into the facility. Upper leadership had to be convinced the company needed the expertise of consultants from the consultation program and citations would not be issued. This was not easy to achieve, Catty embarked on this path with trepidation.

The second hurdle was to convince employees that leadership required their buy-in. Although safety starts with management, it is only truly successful when employees become actively involved in identifying and resolving safety and health concerns.

At first, the consultants were like teachers, helping management understand what was required and why. Once the management team started to understand safety requirements, they were able to take this down to the employee level. Employees began to see the changes being made and management’s commitment. This helped drive employees to action and changed the culture from one of fear to one of hazard prevention and participation in improving safety and health.

Catty Corporation workers celebrate becoming a SHARP team member.

Catty built a program in SharePoint that gives employees access to report near-misses, incidents and observations about safety. After an employee enters the information into SharePoint, it is emailed to the safety team for immediate investigation and correction of the issue. This process opened the door for anyone in the company to have access to a reporting system for safety and health concerns, with or without indicating their identity. After more than a year of implementing the reporting system, no report was done anonymously, this is seen as a confirmation of a culture change.

Worker Buy-In
Catty’s actions to improve the facility’s safety and health culture and increase employee participation led one of the consultants to suggest the company’s participation in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). SHARP recognizes small business employers who have used the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary safety and health program. Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement that singles out a business among its peers as a model for workplace safety and health.

With the encouragement of consultants, Catty decided to take its safety and health program to the next level required to participate in SHARP. With the ongoing culture change, the company had gone from being in fear of OSHA regulations and incurring safety citations, to fostering a collaborative effort with employees, for a safe and healthful work environment. Catty adopted a continuous improvement philosophy, which helped the company to establish, maintain, and improve workplace safety and health:

  • Near miss reporting and abatement available and visible to all employees
  • Hazard analysis for all areas of the plant
  • Training programs
  • Orientation programs
  • Enforcement protocols
  • In house audit programs
  • Change analysis program

As a result of all the work, Catty was accepted into SHARP on March 8 last year.

Work Pays Off
Catty’s hard work is taking it in the right direction. The company implemented a safety and health management system, embraced a positive safety and health culture, and lowered its incident rates.

In 2014, the company’s total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) was 6.0, well above its industry’s average of 3.6. The company’s Days Away and Restricted Time Rate (DART) was 6.0, also well above its industry’s average of 2.6. These numbers have substantially improved, with a TRIR of 1.5 in 2018, which is below the industry average of 2.2 and a DART rate of zero, which is below the industry average of 3.4. In the first half of 2019 the company had no workplace incidents.

Due to the safety and health improvements made, Catty Corporation saw its overall plant efficiency increase by almost 16 percent. The company was also able to renegotiate to lower its workers compensation insurance.

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