It takes a team to stay SHARP, pictured are from right to left, Barry Dillow, MOSH lead safety consultant; William Dallas, assistant commissioner of MOSH; Neill Christopher, COO of Acadia Windows and Doors, Inc.; John Delgado, MOSH lead health consultant, and Brad Meushaw MOSH acting consultation program manager.

Rosedale, MD-based Acadia Windows & Doors, Inc. has always thought about and acted upon safety, but it has now taken it to a new level and is reaping the rewards.

Window and door manufacturer, Acadia, first learned about Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Consultation Services in March 2003 when a consultant was conducting a door-to-door promotion. Taking advantage of these services aligned with their principle of having a “Never Settle” culture.

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During the initial visit, MOSH consultants found machine-guarding concerns, partially developed safety and health programs, recordkeeping gaps, and training issues. The depth of knowledge of MOSH consultants helped in correcting all the hazards, particularly with the machine guarding, and implementing an effective hearing conservation program.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) On-Site Consultation Program offers voluntary, 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 work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

During the year preceding MOSH’s first visit, the 65-employee Acadia experienced 26 injuries and illnesses. After working with MOSH, it reduced to 19. Today, Acadia had no more than two recordable injuries and illnesses in the past three years.

For this North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the industry average total recordable case (TRC) rate was 3.9, and the average days away, restricted, and/or transfer (DART) rate was 2.3 for this period.

Acadia saw injury rates reduce as employees, through their safety committee, became empowered to suggest changes in procedures, policies, and personal protective equipment. Employee buy-in of safety and health was always present, but formal ways of fostering that culture were adopted. During weekly safety meetings, employees participate in the training of others.

Acadia was first OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) certified in 2007, and it has maintained that status.

The company earned its most recent renewal this year. SHARP recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA On-site Consultation 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.

The company enjoys several benefits of participating in SHARP. Since collaborating with MOSH Consultation, Acadia has worked over 3,500 days without a lost time accident. In addition, the company saved about 15 percent on the cost of their Worker’s Compensation insurance.

At first, though, SHARP proved to be a learning lesson.

“First of all, there was the impression that we were ‘safe enough,’” said Neill Christopher, COO of Acadia Windows and Doors. “Once we realized that we could always be safer, the challenges became physical — how do we update machine-guarding equipment? How do we solve training issues? What do we look for when examining an extension cord?

“We are proud of our TRC and DART record and even more proud of our culture of safety. Other, larger companies have met with our Safety Committee to learn from our experience. Most of all, our team members see safety as a 24 hour a day mindset—not just something to pay attention to at work. 

“Working with On-Site Consultation made our strong safety program possible. We knew we could do better, but we did not have the tools to improve. The Maryland On-Site Consultation program gave us the framework on which we could build.”

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