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Staying SHARP

By Lisa Rummler

HK Metalcraft earns OSHA's Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program award

June 2009 - It's been said that life is about the journey, not the destination. That philosophy applies to a recent achievement at HK Metalcraft Mfg. Corp., Lodi, N.J. In this case, however, the destination is significant, as well.

In October 2008, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration recognized the precision metal stampings manufacturer as a participant in the administration's Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program.

Representatives from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Developmentvisited HK Metalcraft in April 2009 and presented the fourth-generation company with the SHARP award.

"The award is the recognition of a milestone achieved," according to Jim Gross, director of maintenance and plant safety coordinator at HK Metalcraft. "But I think the real significance is what you're getting by working toward being capable of getting SHARP recognition, as far as safety and health benefits throughout the facility."

Long-term goal
Randolph Hauser, occupational health consultant at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, says that once companies apply to achieve SHARP recognition, the process usually takes from one year to three years.

"It's not just that they have to be a safe company," according to Hauser. "They have to have programs and procedures in place and an effective management system that is SHARP-quality."

One of the first requirements for companies vying for SHARP is that the worksite must have injury and illness rates (DART and TRCR) below their industry average.

If a company's facility meets this qualification, the next step is to review compliance with mandated OSHA programs. After that, the OSHA consultants conduct a walk-through at the company's facility.

"We look at the physical conditions of the workplace, things such as housekeeping, chemical storage, machine guarding and plant electrical wiring," according to Hauser. "And most of the time, we're going to find some hazards. That doesn't necessarily rule them out for SHARP, but they have to correct all hazards that we find and let us verify the correction of the hazards."

The final step, which Hauser describes as the major hill a company has to surmount, is an assessment of the company's management system for safety based on the OSHA Consultation 33 form. This document has 58 elements, and for each, a company must score at least a two on a zero-to-three-point scale.

Sections include hazard anticipation and detection, hazard prevention and control, planning and evaluation, administration and supervision, safety and health training, management leadership and employee participation.

"This form is the most difficult hurdle for a company to clear to achieve SHARP," according to Hauser. "This is because to score well on this form is really more of a challenge than just to comply with OSHA regulations. The OSHA consultants do a lot of interviewing of labor, as well as supervision, to accurately score the OSHA Consultation 33 form. You're asking companies about the extent of employee training and the degree of meaningful employee participation in the safety and health system. We want to make sure companies that achieve SHARP go above and beyond mere compliance with OSHA regulations."

Group effort
HK Metalcraft initially contacted the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development in 2006. The state representative's walk-through was Sept. 8, 2006. The company was indirectly preparing to apply for SHARP even before then, however.

"I think the first step is the management's decision that they're going to run a safe operation and that they're going to get help to do that," according to Raymond Hopp, president of HK Metalcraft and grandson of the founder of the company. "The second thing is to find a capable project manager to lead the team. We found that project manager in Jim [Gross]. And then finally it's to provide the support to make sure that this goes ahead in an orderly fashion."

Additionally, HK Metalcraft is ISO/TS 16949-certified, which means it must follow a process to address nonconformities and formulate short- and long-term ways to overcome them. Hopp believes this helped the company during the SHARP application process.

"The psychological requirements were already in place, as were the cultural requirements, to do this," according to Hopp.

This helped HK Metalcraft ensure that anything brought to the company's attention during visits by the OSHA consultants was remedied by the time the team visited next.

"The state was happy that we took this extremely seriously as we progressed through their program," according to Gross. "A large number of man-hours go into putting a program like this together, but you can't put a price on safety. That's the No. 1 goal." FFJ

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