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Lisa Dunn knew to improve safety at an Illinois scrap metal company she would need to find a way to involve employees in developing a more collaborative safety culture.

When workers would hear the safety manager at Becker Iron and Metal droning on about rules and procedures, it became very easy to ignore the message.

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The company had a total recordable case rate of 2.3 for 2010 − less than the industry average, but she felt there was plenty of room for improvement.

When owner Dan Becker learned about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s On-Site Consultation Program at a conference, he told Lisa about it, who then immediately requested a consultation to review safety procedures in the plant and look at ways to reduce potential hazards.

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The initial consult found electrical hazards and insufficient personal protective equipment. The company’s owners took immediate action to address those issues, and also invested in new equipment to reduce exposure to metal fumes.

“This is a tough industry and we found employees sometimes were reluctant to express concern about their safety and to report near-accidents/incidents that they found might compromise their welfare or that of their co-workers,” Dunn said. “After our initial consultation resulted in immediate safety improvements, the employees felt empowered to work on improving safety and began to make suggestions and work on improvements.”

Dunn said OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program not only improved her knowledge of safety and compliance issues, but it also gave her a support system of experts that are only a phone call or email away.

Becker Iron and Metal decided to take a more proactive approach to occupational safety and health, setting a goal of earning recognition through OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). SHARP is open to small businesses that willing and able to meet requirements to ensure a safe workplace.

In 2014, the company achieved a zero injury and illness rate and earned SHARP status.

“Our employees are very proud of their achievement as a SHARP company and now they come to us with suggestions for improving processes and working safe,” Dunn said. “We are truly a family here and we want all our employees to go home safely each day.”

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