Rubber product maker Essentra Specialty Tapes of Forest Park, IL, knew over a decade ago, safety was a vital element for the company moving forward.
Like any manufacturer, the company suffered accidents, but management knew they had to cut down on incidents as the company continued its growth curve.
Founded in 1947, Essentra Specialty Tapes grew from its modest roots as a one-man shop, housed in a space less than 1,000 sq. ft., to multiple facilities with over 152,000 sq. ft. and 125 employees.
The company is a supplier of specialty plastic, fiber, foam, and packaging products, such as double-sided foam tapes, heavy duty high bond tapes, adhesive hook and loop as well as weather stripping, Duraco bumpers, and magnetic merchandise.
Essentra learned about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Safety and Health Recognition Program (SHARP) through interactions with an Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission consultant. Management contacted the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL), On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program, which helps businesses meet the Federal OSHA health and safety regulations.
Essentra learned 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 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.
The first Essentra On-site Consultation Program visit was in July 2003. Hazards noted during the consultant’s walk-around included insufficient or missing machine guarding, problems with electrical systems, and inadequate written safety and health policies, procedures, and other documentation.
During the hazard correction process, Essentra implemented several corrective approaches, ranging from job hazard analyses to internal safety inspections. In addition to establishing a safety and health committee, staffed by people from all levels of the organization, annual workplace safety and health compliance training requirements ended up initiated.
Worker safety and health needs at all levels of the organization ended up evaluated and addressed, ranging from getting worker buy in, to developing or updating policies and procedures, training and education, preventive maintenance, ergonomics, purchasing procedures, and to housekeeping/safety audits.
Today, corrective action/preventive action processes, near accident reporting mechanisms, and job hazard analyses refresher training are just some of the tools that routinely contribute to the company’s safety culture.
Hard Works Pays Off
The company implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system, experienced a positive safety culture change, and lowered the injury and illness rates.
Before their first consultation visit back in 2003, Essentra workers experienced seven recordable injuries, By 2014 that number dropped to two. In 2014, the company reported a Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) of 1.53, and the Days Away, Restricted, and/or Transfer Rate (DART) was also 1.53. For comparison, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2014 the industry average TRC was 3.9, and the average DART was 2.5.
Essentra’s dedication to protecting workers ended up rewarded in 2006 when they ended up accepted into SHARP.
The company maintained SHARP status, with its most recent renewal in January 2016. Acceptance into SHARP is an achievement of status that singles out the company among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.
“Working with the On-site Consultation Program helped emphasize the responsibilities of management in establishing a system for safety and health,” said Essentra’s Safety and Health Manager, John Brunner. “But management can’t take all of the credit; this was truly a team effort. Everyone here at Essentra contributed to earning the OSHA SHARP flag and does things – large and small – daily to keep this company a safe and healthful workplace.”
The OSHA SHARP paved the way for certification in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Safety and Health Management System (OHSAS 18001). Essentra passed the ISO renewal audit in December 2015. That means company has an internationally recognized Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) in place.
In 2015, the Essentra Specialty Tapes, Forest Park facility ended up selected by the State of Illinois to host Governor Bruce Rauner in commemorating Worker’s Memorial Day. Selection of this facility came in a large part on their certification as an OSHA SHARP workplace.
Workers’ Memorial Day ends up observed every year on April 28. It is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, to acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and to recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers. April 28 is also the day the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act became effective in 1971, and it is now the official birthday of the agency.