Simply put, safety programs are vital for the health and well-being of the employees, as well as the health of the manufacturing facility itself. Nationally, specific manufacturers in Nebraska have been touted for their strong commitment to safety.
Take for example Novozyme’s Blair, Nebraska, campus, which was featured in Ethanol Producer Magazine late last year for their exceptional safety culture. General manager Kyle Blair reports that the facility has gone three years without one lost-time accident and also has a total reportable injury rate below 1% (any injury requiring aid, but not a missed day at work). “We’ve got a good streak going here,” Blair says.
How have they achieved this exceptional safety record? There are a few ways: The company emphasizes proactive action instead of reactive action, asking employees to share safety suggestions that could eliminate hazards. All 118 plant employees wear badges that display their list of safety rules, and managers and workers walk through the plant together to work through a checklist of safety items. Those aspects, combined with making safety the first topic at any board meeting or discussion, have taken the company’s safety record above and beyond the usual standards.
While many Nebraska manufacturers work conscientiously to enforce the highest safety standards, the fact remains that there are segments that are considered “high hazard manufacturing industries,” like food manufacturing, furniture manufacturing, fabricated metal manufacturing, nonmetallic mineral manufacturing, computer products manufacturing, as well as printing and related support activities.
According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, those industries are where injury and illness rates exceed the average for the private sector. As such, a new REP, or regional emphasis program, will target manufacturers in Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri for additional hazard training.
“Workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths are preventable when employers train workers and provide a safe and healthy work environment. This region-wide emphasis program provides 90 days of outreach and education to assist employers in high-hazard industries to eliminate hazards that can cause worker injuries and illnesses,” said Marcia Drumm, the regional administrator for our region.
Thus, the REP is designed to make manufacturing in Nebraska and the surrounding states safer than ever before. And that’s a mission we can get behind.
What does this mean if your business is involved in one of the above industries? Well, Drumm says that there will be a higher probability of inspection at establishments in high-hazard industries that have not had a comprehensive inspection since 2011. It also means that there will be a 3-month period of education and prevention outreach to share safety and health information with employers, associations, and workers. After the three months, inspections will commence and then end on September 30, 2016.
If you have questions about safety education in the meantime, here are a few wonderful resources for you:
- OSHA Listing of Safety and Health Topics: Find help on any topic you might have questions about, from nail guns to pyrotechnics and more.
- Manufacturing At a Glance PDF: Learn about a career working in manufacturing safety.
- 2015 Successes in Safety: Learn about last year’s recognitions for Nebraska manufacturers who excelled in meeting all safety standards.
Questions? Comments? Want to learn more? Leave a comment in the section below, any time!