Worker safety makes good business sense. Not only does a safety program affect a business’ fiscal health, it can help increase productivity and boost worker morale.
To help small businesses reach and maintain high safety standards, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) developed the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, or SHARP.
SHARP, according to the small business page on OSHA’s website, “is the agency’s primary program for providing small-business owners no-cost consultation services to address hazards and improve workplace safety and health without fear of citations or monetary penalties.”
OSHA funds the programs, which are run by state grantees with in-depth knowledge of the small businesses they serve.
Participating in SHARP can lower employer insurance premiums, reduce days lost due to injuries, and create a culture of safety in the workplace. It also positions the business as a safety leader in its industry and can exempt the business from planned OSHA inspections for up to two years.
A bachelor degree in occupational health and safety online can prepare graduates to understand safety principles as well as the occupational health and safety terminology needed to manage and maintain SHARP standards.
Earning SHARP Status
According to the United States Department of Labor, participation in SHARP requires:
- A scheduled visit from the OHSA consultation office
- Employee involvement
- Correction of any identified hazards
- Knowledge of OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines
- Support of OSHA’s Issuance of Voluntary Guidelines
- A Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate and Total Recordable Case (TRC) rate below the industry’s national average
- Notification to OSHA before making any relative changes in the workplace
Benefits of SHARP
The SHARP program is open to new businesses with 250 or fewer on-site employees and fewer than 500 corporate-wide employees. The free consultation program provides information designed to improve workplace safety and prevent citations or monetary penalties for small businesses.
In addition to OSHA inspection exemptions, other benefits of SHARP include:
- Protection from safety and health hazards
- Improved communication between workers and management
- Official recognition from OSHA
- Lower premiums on workers’ compensation insurance
SHARP Success Stories
The SHARP program has helped numerous companies inaugurate safety programs, reach safety goals, and correct identified hazards.
The OSHA website recounts some of the success stories, including these:
Luxfer Superform: Overall Company Safety
Luxfer Superform, a Riverside, CA, technology company that manufactures high-performance materials, components, and gas cylinders, had its first on-site consultation in 2015. Over the next four years, the company had five consultations and corrected 27 identified hazards – 11 categorized as serious.
“With the CAL/OSHA Consultation Team’s support, we have made many great changes to our safety programs over the past few years,” said Angela Rayfield, the company’s human resources manager.
“These changes included, but were not limited to, establishing employee safety committees and teams, conducting safety stand-down meetings, performing job hazard analyses, reviewing and updating safety programs, updating PPE requirements and products, and establishing a robust safety training program.”
Polytek Development: Lower TRC and DART Rates
Polytek Development Corp. in Easton, PA specializes in polymers for mold and casting applications. Since the company’s initial on-site consultation, it has developed company-wide health and safety goals, new training policies, and a Hazard Reporting policy. In 2015, Polytek’s total TRC and DART rates were 7.6. Two years later, the number dropped to zero.
“Continuing to work with PA OSHA and SHARP benefits Polytek and its employees through collaborative involvement in workplace health and safety efforts,” said Jennifer Mcllhaney, the company’s environmental health services director. “Such efforts have helped to improve the company’s safety culture.”
Somerville Fabricators: Employee-Driven Improvements
In 2014, after on-site consultations at its Mineral Wells, WV, facility, Somerville Fabricators, Inc., a full-service fabricator of carbon and stainless steel, implemented a successful employee-driven safety plan. The company organized a mandatory training and inspection schedule and created a safety team drawn from various levels in the organization to report on inspections.
“Our safety program became a machine driven by employee participation,” said company Vice President Peggy Somerville.
“It went from management creating and dictating policies to a partnership complete with two-way communication between employees and management. Our employees truly embraced a culture of safety in the workplace and are always ready with suggestions and participation, not only on the safety committee but also by sharing ad hoc observations and recommending improvements.”
Oregon: Continuing Education
Oregon OSHA Consultation Services, a division of Oregon OSHA, presented at the Blue Mountain Occupational Safety and Health Conference in early June 2019. During the two-day event, the agency covered topics dealing with safety committees, safety leadership, root cause analysis, and chemical safety.
The issue of personality differences in risk management was addressed by the event’s keynote speaker, Rob Fisher, president, and director of operations at Fisher Improvement Technologies in Concord, NC.
“It is important to be aware of and manage the personality tendencies that can blind people to risk,” he said. “When we account for certain tendencies, we increase our chances of being safer. There is more to being safe than just managing the physical hazards.”
Understanding the importance of on-site consultations and analyzing the findings can be the first step in building a safer workplace. Implementing an effective health and safety team requires the knowledge that comes with experience, a strong background in the field, and insight on today’s protocols and policies.
Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety Program
Eastern Kentucky University’s online bachelor degree in occupational health and safety program is designed to offer students the tools to identify and analyze potential workplace hazards and to understand policy, enforcement, and risks.
For more information, contact EKU today.
Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP): United States Department of Labor
Success Stories: United States Department of Labor
Polytek® Development Corporation Earns OSHA SHARP Award: United States Department of Labor