NORTH ANDOVER, MA. —Watts today announced that its Watts Radiant facility in Springfield, Missouri has become one of fewer than fifty manufacturing plants to receive certification as part of the Missouri Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). The prestigious SHARP distinction, issued by OSHA, recognizes an “elite group of small businesses that maintain exemplary safety and health management systems.”
In order to qualify for the SHARP program, the 130-employee Watts Radiant facility was able to lower its elevated Days Away, Restricted, and/or Transfer (DART) rate from almost 7 to 0. The entire process of consultation, inspection, modification, training and re-inspection took about 15 months, with Watts Radiant earning top marks from OSHA on its final inspection.
The Watts Radiant plant manufactures products for under-floor heating and snowmelt, and has been at this location in Springfield since 2004. The idea to apply for SHARP, says Brian Jones, EHS Rep, came from an employee. “One of our supervisors approached me in 2009,” says Jones, “And said her husband’s company had applied for SHARP, and she thought we should, too. So I looked into it.” The company had recently had several incidents and received a site specific targeting letter from OSHA, so the timing was right to renew their focus on safety.
What Jones found when he looked into SHARP was encouraging. “SHARP is a program for the best of the best,” says Jones, “so we knew it would be a great motivator for us to make the improvements we were already set on making to our workplace safety.” Of more than 120,000 eligible facilities in Missouri, fewer than fifty are certified for SHARP. Jones felt participation would be a nice feather in the cap of the division. He filed an application with OSHA to have a consultation.
The SHARP program also dovetailed nicely with the safety objectives of Watts Radiant’s corporate parent: Watts Water Technologies. Watts Water has set a companywide goal of an incident rate of under 1.5 and a DART of under 3. Watts Radiant is on goal to complete the year with an incident rate of 1.4 and a DART of 0. This is well under the industry average for both, and Jones says his employees are excited about the higher levels of workplace safety. He also expects this new track record will also positively impact the company’s worker compensation insurance rates, going forward.
Meeting the requirements for the program proved easier than Jones expected. “Much of what SHARP required was things we were already doing—common sense things,” he explains. “We had a few unexpected changes we had to make to minor things like junction boxes and some light lenses, but there were no real hazards we had to deal with. We’ve always had safety precautions in place, so this simply brought those into line with OSHA’s expectations.”
Jones has been pleased with the enthusiasm employees have shown for the program. “It’s become a real safety culture,” he explains, “Where everyone has taken ownership. If someone were to come into the plant without safety glasses, for example, employees would step right up and make sure they were provided.” The company is using DuPont’s Safety Training Observation Program (STOP) to train employees in seeing and preventing potential incidents before they can happen.
To receive SHARP recognition, a company has to provide protection for workers from all OSHA-identified safety and health hazards that might exist in the workplace, implement OSHA-approved best practices, and design an innovative health and safety management program that encouraged a workplace culture with emphasis on safety and responsibility.
The certification grants an exemption from programmed OSHA inspections for up to two years, and subsequent renewal for up to three years.