Sanford & Hawley, Inc. is 132-year-old a family owned lumber and building materials supplier, based in Unionville, Connecticut, but has yards and stores in Avon and Manchester as well as West Springfield, MA.
All four of the company’s facilities are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), On-site Consultation Program, Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) participants.
The SHARP journey started back in 1988, when one of Sanford & Hawley’s mill shop employees ended up injured while using a saw. While the employee recovered, it was still a serious injury, an incident that left fellow employees and the company owners traumatized. The injury along with others also led the company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier to threaten to drop coverage if the company’s claim rate could not be reduced.
That is when the company jumped into action. Officials heard of the OSHA On-site Consultation Program, but they initially feared bringing OSHA in.
OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program is completely voluntary. These services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. The program offers free, confidential safety and health advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country and several territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.
Instead of reaching out to OSHA, the company implemented stricter safety procedures and started more training, using resources offered by the company’s insurance carrier. While these changes lead to some improvements, the company still felt vulnerable, based upon their limited in-house safety and health expertise.
That is when they gave OSHA a try. Sanford & Hawley ‘s first visit from the Connecticut Department of Labor, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CONN-OSHA), Consultation Services came in 2000. The company took OSHA’s recommendations seriously and invited OSHA back annually to inspect the workplace, review corrective actions that had been taken, and identify additional measures that needed to be addressed.
By 2005, sufficient progress had been made on the management system elements, and all recommended corrective actions had been completed and documented. As a result, the company was recommended for acceptance into SHARP. This accomplishment did not end the relationship with CONN-OSHA.
The initial CONN-OSHA SHARP approval for Sanford & Hawley occurred in September 2005, and the latest renewal was completed August 20, 2016. SHARP recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA On-site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary injury and illness prevention program. Acceptance of worksites into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that distinguishes a company amongst its business peers as a model for workplace safety and health. For 16 years, the company has continued to invite the CONN-OSHA consultants into their facilities to conduct safety and health assessments, review programs and procedures, and make recommendations.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Sanford & Hawley has had fewer injuries and illnesses since working with the OSHA consultants and achieving SHARP.
In 2013, 2014, and 2015, Sanford and Hawley’s Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) rate was zero, and their Days Away from Work, Job Transfer and Restriction (DART) rate was also zero. In comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the national average TRC rate in 2013 for this industry was 3.3; in 2014, it was 4.4; and in 2015, it was 4.1. BLS reported the national average DART rate in 2013 was 1.8; in 2014, it was 3.0; and in 2015, it was 2.6. This collaboration has helped reduce hidden costs associated with on-the-job injury claims and accident investigations as well as reduced medical care costs, days lost, workers compensation premiums, and staffing difficulties associated with having injured workers unexpectedly being off the job.
In 2000, during CONN-OSHA’s initial on site visit, the consultant identified solutions for electrical issues, such as running permanent wiring to replace extension cords, testing and upgrading unmarked electrical boxes, and testing and identifying all electrical circuits. As a result of this work, the company found and eliminated numerous “hot” wires running through the walls of the oldest building, a potential fire and electric shock hazard.
“The company wants to provide a safe workplace for its employees and to minimize their chance of injury and harm,” said Human Resource Director, John E. Dubrowin. “The management of this company is committed to safety, and at all times, every employee is to encourage fellow employee compliance with all safety provisions.”