The JLG Industries plant on Walnut Bottom Road is flying the flag of safety.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration honored the plant of 450 workers as a Voluntary Protection Program STAR Site, one of 99 in Pennsylvania and one of about 2,200 in the U.S.
At the Safety Through Accountability and Reliability sites, management, labor, and OSHA cooperate to create a comprehensive safety and health management system. The process started at the JLG plant six years ago when Oshkosh, JLG's parent company, challenged its plants to improve safety, according to Alam Loux, vice president of marketing.
The Shippensburg-area plant is the first in Cumberland County, the first in the Oshkosh Corporation and the first in the access industry to earn the STAR designation. The 330,000 square foot factory makes boom lifts, telehandlers and scissor lifts.
“This isn’t just a safe company. It’s a model company,” said David Olah, assistant director of OSHA in the Harrisburg area.
Olah presented the STAR flag to JLG employees on Tuesday. The company's Bedford plant is to be awarded a flag on Wednesday.
“If you see something wrong it always gets fixed right away,” said Jaime Suders of Shippensburg, who has worked at the local plant for more than 15 years. “It makes you feel like coming to work, the fact that your facilitator and manage tell you: 'You are doing a great job.'”
The safety committee conducts regular walk-throughs of the work area and safety audits where they inspect tools and equipment, like chains and safety harnesses used to lift equipment.
Here are some examples of how JLG prevents accidents and injury:
- In the first year after forklifts were equipped with indicator lights and made to travel one way around the factory, accidents dropped 40 percent.
- Colored tape on the shop floor designates parts under 40 pounds that one person can lift and other parts requiring two people or a piece of equipment to lift.
- Workers loading and securing finished JLG lifts on flatbed trucks are attached to a harness to prevent falling from the slippery deck.
- New hires spend their first day on the job learning safety and getting over their nervousness of working with new equipment.
- A piece of equipment stops automatically if someone opens its protective cage or steps too close.
The company and employees benefit from the STAR process, according to OSHA. Fewer injuries and illnesses improve profits as workers’ compensation premiums and other costs fall.
The JLG plant scores 40 percent below its peers in the frequency of incidents and the amount of time injured workers are away from work, according to Olah.
JLG’s safety process has involved more employees. The safety committee has grown to 30 people. Alternates fill in when regular members are absent.
“It boils down to one word – caring, caring for each other,” said Patrick Sherman, an assembler from Chambersburg.
Sherman, a member of the JLG safety team, said he was confident when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration came to evaluate the plant. The team’s own safety audits had doubled checked what had already been done.
The team interviewed 119 people at the plant during the two-day review.
“You want to stay safe for JLG and your family,” Suders said. “The more you know, the more you watch out for each other.”