On any given day, workers at T&L Foundry Inc. are around molten metals at temperatures of 1,300 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Each of the employees has a specific task to complete involving hot metal, which means safety comes first.
The Glenpool, OK-based T&L Foundry is a family-owned company founded in 1960 by E.L. Covington and now run by Bill Covington.
What is interesting is the Covingtons know they work in a high hazard industry, but they also believe safety is vital to theirs and their workers’ existence.
Employees typically can be seen loading metal melting furnaces, forming molds for pouring metal into, and finishing the final product using grinders and tumble blasters. At T&L Foundry, management has focused on conducting operations and business in a manner that offers protection to each and every employee.
“This is our family here at T&L. We want to protect them and make sure they have a safe place to work; they are all family,” said Brenda Cunningham, HR/Safety Manager at T&L Foundry.
Several years ago, T&L contacted Oklahoma OSHA Consultation Services, which is a unit of the Oklahoma Department of Labor (DoL), which helps businesses meet the Federal OSHA health and safety regulations. OSHA’s completely voluntary On-Site Consultation Program 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 work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.
The initial T&L Foundry OSHA Consultation Service visit took place in 2008. Hazards noted during the consultant’s walk-around included insufficient or missing machine guarding, personal protective equipment issues, and problems with electrical systems.
After receiving the inspection report, the company corrected all of the hazards and continued to work with the Oklahoma consultants to improve its workplace safety processes and polices.
T&L Foundry employees became more involved in their own safety with the use of a safety committee. This committee includes people from all levels of the organization. The HR/Safety Manager continued to develop a comprehensive safety program that included employee training, open communication, and individual accountability. A key part to their success involves the accident/near miss reporting mechanisms, job hazard analyses, and refresher training. All the effort culminated in a positive safety culture.
T&L Foundry has been dedicated to the safety of their employees.
For the 5th consecutive time, the company has achieved the OSHA Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award with the help of the Oklahoma Department of Labor — OSHA Consultation Service.
Bill Covington, chief executive/owner, and Cunningham instilled the use of safe work practices with unwavering commitment to ensure the employees go home safe each day. Management has worked with the Oklahoma DoL On-Site Consultation Service consultants in reviewing their safety program and employee training programs to reinforce their safety commitment to employees.
Each year, T&L has shown exemplary commitment to safety.
To that end, since August 21, 2014, no recordable injuries have occurred. Since then they have prevented numerous injuries and saved several thousand dollars.
In contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the industry average Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) rate for NAICS code 33152, Non-Ferrous Metals Foundries, was 7.6. In 2015, the national average TRC was 6.1; in 2016, it was 6.3. National average Days Away from Work, Job Transfer and Restriction Rate (DART) rate was 4.7 for this NAICS code in 2014. In 2015, BLS found the industry average DART rate was 3.5, and in 2016, it was 4.3.
Over the last several years, the Workers Compensation insurance premium has dropped from $249,000 to $69,000. This reduction is a great accomplishment for any business.
In response to recommendations provided by the Oklahoma DoL On-Site Consultation Service consultants, management formed a stronger bond with employees, increased awareness inspections, maintained safety programs, and saved a couple hundred thousand dollars in direct cost.
“Everyone working here is not afraid to speak up and say ‘hey we need to look at this’ or ‘hey would this be safer,’” Cunningham said. “We have developed relationships with everyone, so they can ask questions and make suggestions.”