Easton, PA-based Polytek Development Corporation is a manufacturer of specialty polymers including polyurethane elastomers and casting resins, silicone, epoxies, plastisol, thermoplastic elastomers, and latex, which end up used primarily in mold making and casting applications in the industrial, construction, entertainment, fine arts and technology sectors.
Started up in 1984, Polytek remains committed to improving upon its occupational health and safety policies.
In 2016, Polytek researched safety and health consultation options and came across the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), PA OSHA Consultation Program website. The PA OSHA Consultation Program assists private-sector employers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in understanding and voluntarily complying with applicable health and safety regulations enforced by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Since 1983, the IUP Department of Safety Sciences has been designated as the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program’s official agency in the Commonwealth, and continues to provide no-cost occupational and health consultative services.
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 or universities, such as IUP, 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 initial workplace safety and health assessment visits at Polytek, PA OSHA consultants identified several hazards, including personal protective equipment use, use of potentially hazardous materials, and general safety concerns that had gone unnoticed among employees.
Immediate action was taken to correct all of these hazards. Employees were retrained on personal fall protection, hazardous materials they may encounter throughout the day, and how to report general safety issues. In addition to these corrective actions, Polytek set company-wide health and safety goals, introduced new training policies for potentially hazardous materials, and implemented a Hazard Reporting Policy. Implementing a Hazard Reporting Policy has shown a noticeable increase in incident reporting which has led to continual improvement within the safety culture.
Outside of policies, motivating employees to participate in incident reporting and taking note of potential hazards has been a challenge for safety personnel.
To that point, Polytek’s Safety Committee implemented a Safety Incentive Program to further boost incident reporting. Improving policies and practices allows Polytek to continue to provide a healthy and safe work environment for all its employees.
On September 27, 2018, Polytek ended up accepted into the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary safety and health program. Acceptance into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles Polytek out among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.
Injury Rates at Zero
To participate in SHARP, a company must have injury and illness rates below the national average. In 2015, Polytek’s total recordable case (TRC) and days away, restricted, and transferred (DART) rates were 7.6. Two years after the initial PA OSHA consultation visit, Polytek had dropped their TRC and DART rates to zero. During this period for NAICS code 325212, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the industry average TRC rate was 2.70, and the industry average DART rate was 1.95.
Continuing to work with PA OSHA and SHARP benefits Polytek and its employees through collaborative involvement in workplace health and safety efforts. Such efforts have helped to improve the company’s safety culture.