Keep Your Friends Close & Your Safety Friends Closer


Keep Your Friends Close & Your Safety Friends Closer

OSHA isn’t really all that scary;
most of it boils down to policies and procedures.

Whether you’re having safety issues in your production area or not, Bill Kyrola, production and safety manager at Manion Truss and Components, an SBCA Operation Safety-certified plant in Superior, Wisconsin, would argue one of the best things you can do is make friends with a local safety consultant.

“Your local safety consultants and contacts are an asset; I think they are part of any well-rounded safety program,” Kyrola explained. Manion works regularly with Daryl Iverson from WisCon, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene’s Onsite Safety & Health Consultation Program. Like many similar state programs, WisCon offers on-site consultation services to assist private-sector employers in meeting their obligations and responsibilities under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). “At first it seemed like it could be overwhelming,” Kyrola admitted, “but only because Daryl had so much good information to offer.”

“OSHA isn’t really all that scary; most of it boils down to policies and procedures,” Kyrola explained. “Recently, we eliminated the requirement for steel-toed boots in our production areas. Of course, we still require a good leather shoe with a rubber sole,” for protection against grease, solvents and other hazards, but staff “don’t have to wear steel toes anymore. I worked with Daryl to develop a written policy that he reviewed and revised. We did that a couple of times, he always responds in a day or so, and then I put it in place. It was easy.”

Crafting or recrafting policies is just one part of working with a group like WisCon. Kyrola indicated that one of the best things he’s learned from working with Iverson is to be consistent. “Daryl is available by phone or email pretty much any time, but he only comes to my facility once a year. I’m the one out in the production area every day saying, ‘Are you wearing your seatbelt? No? Put it on,’ or ‘Is that guard properly in place? Fix it.’ And you know what? After a few times, it works. It’s monotonous, but we just have to keep working on each thing and eventually we make a lot of progress.”

Another benefit of building a good rapport with a safety expert is some simple reassurance you’re doing things right. “From time to time I set out paper table tents with safety tips on them like, ‘Do the Penguin Shuffle.’ They’ll sit there for a few days and then I’ll find one laying on the ground or crumpled up in the garbage,” Kyrola explained. “I was telling Daryl about it on one of his visits and expressed some frustration and he said, ‘Well, Bill, at least you know they are looking at them, right?’ I had to admit he was right.”

The advantages to getting to know your local safety consultants and inviting them into your plant can be even bigger. “As far as OSHA is concerned, we’re under Daryl’s care. Of course, we’re still expected to follow all of the rules, but with Daryl’s ongoing help we never really have any concerns that can’t be managed,” Kyrola concluded.

If you’re ready to forge some new relationships, don’t hesitate to reach out. If your plant happens to be located in Wisconsin, WisCon is a great place to start. For other U.S. locations, OSHA’s website has an easy-to-use directory of safety consultants as well as good information about the process and benefits of a free on-site consultation. Visit OSHA's website for details.

About the Author: Molly E. Butz worked with CMs to develop the original SBCA Operation Safety Program and has over 12 years of experience helping CMs develop and maintain safety best practices. For information on SBCA Safety Programs visit