“Having a safe workplace does pay,” Mike Wolff said.
That is because the vice president of safety and operations at Mid-States Concrete Industries partnered with the Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) On-Site Consultation Program and through various safety related changes, workers compensation costs dropped by about 80 percent, which allowed the company to see a reduction in insurance premiums. Plus, the company has seen a significant increase in quality and efficiency gains.
Since 1946, Mid-States Concrete Industries produced structural and architectural precast concrete systems that provide customers with high quality building materials.
The company produces precast concrete elements, such as hollow core, beams, columns, balconies, solid slabs, and wall panels, in their South Beloit, Illinois, facility.
In addition, the company provides preconstruction support, such as design and engineering expertise, estimating services, and installation services. Mid-States Concrete Industries is a PCI (Precast Concrete Institute) Certified Plant and PCI-Certified Erector.
Mid-States began its journey toward earning OSHA, Safety and Health Recognition Program (SHARP) award in 2010 after experiencing a major incident on-site. SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used the no-cost and confidential OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement that identifies a company as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers.
Whatever it Takes
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the Mid-States team committed to doing whatever it would take to ensure that something like that would never happen again. While safety had always been a priority, it was after this incident that “safety above all else” became a major initiative and cornerstone of Mid-States as a company.
In 2010, Mid-States contacted the Illinois OSHA On-Site Consultation Program for help improving the company’s work-related safety and health activities. The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers voluntary, no-cost, and confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized businesses. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.
Since contacting the Illinois OSHA On-Site Consultation Program, Mid-States has requested and received one-to-two OSHA workplace safety and health reviews annually. It all started with learning the OSHA rules and training, training, training. The company now has an employee safety committee, union safety officers, and trainers that help with safety. Now, the employees take ownership when it comes to safety.
“It truly has been a journey,” Wolff said. “It was not something that happened overnight . . . and the journey doesn’t end.”
The vision statement of Mid-States Concrete Industries is: “We are going to change the world by being the safest and most innovative precast building company.”
“We are actually doing what our vision wants us to do,” said Wolff. “We are a [safety] model for our nation, through SHARP.”
The first consultation full-service safety and health visit for Mid-States was conducted in 2010. The total number of recordable injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2010 was 18 with a total recordable case (TRC) rate of 47.8 and a days away from work, days restricted work activity or job transfer (DART) rate of 9.7. To participate in SHARP, a company’s injury and illness rates must be at or below the national average for its industry. Since 2010, the Mid-States’ injury and illness rates have dropped significantly. By 2016, Mid-States’ TRC rate was 5.0, and their DART rate was 3.2. In comparison in 2010, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the national average TRC was 9.7 for NAICS Code 32739, and the DART rate was 5.5. By 2016, BLS reported a TRC rate of 5.0 and a DART rate of 3.2 for this NAICS Code.
On July 25, 2017, Mid-States Concrete Industries was approved to participate in SHARP. A company-wide presentation was held in October, featuring a safety presentation and an official presentation of the SHARP award from an Illinois OSHA Safety Supervisor. When initially certified as a SHARP site, a company is granted an exemption from OSHA programmed inspections for up to 2 years. After the initial certification period, the company may request SHARP renewal for up to 3 years. Although Mid-States is certified for 2 years, Wolff plans to welcome OSHA consultants in to conduct safety reviews prior to the expiration. The company will need to continue to improve and implement safety programs to maintain its SHARP designation.
“We do it because we care about our employees,” Wolff said. “We want them to go home in the same condition they arrived, every day.”