A Publication of WTVP

The core of IMEC’s mission is to improve the productivity and competitiveness of manufacturing and related sectors. While IMEC has a variety of resources for small and mid-sized employers, there is perhaps no more important role we can play than in our efforts to eliminate employee injuries and help companies reduce the overall costs associated with poor plant safety practices.

A few months ago, we reported that IMEC was the recipient of a $225,000 federal grant to help improve the safety performance for small manufacturers and other high-hazard small businesses. Under the program, IMEC is focusing on training evening and night-shift workers on methods to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses.

The cost to employers for injured workers is significant. A study by the National Safety Council estimates that for every individual injury, all workers must produce $1,100 in additional goods and services to offset the cost. The cost per disabling injury is an estimated $38,000, which includes wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses and employer costs (excluding property damage costs except to motor vehicles). In addition, the estimated future time loss from injuries that occurred in 2005 alone is 65 million days because of on-the-job, permanently-disabling injuries. As expected, amputations comprise the most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims, averaging $37,000 per claim filed in 2004. Manufacturing business also accounted for nearly 40 percent of all new occupational illness cases in 2005.

As the grant period has reached the midpoint, several successes have emerged. Three training modules have been developed and are under final review by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration. The individual modules—which teach employees hazard recognition, avoidance or control—will integrate safety and health responsibilities with lean enterprise techniques and operational tactics:

  1. Confined Spaces for Sanitation and Maintenance Employees (1 hour) 
  2. Lockout/Tagout and Total Productive Maintenance (2 hours) 
  3. Sanitation and 5S+1 (2 hours).

If your company has fewer than 250 employees and is not part of a larger, multinational or corporate structure, you may be eligible to participate in the program. This summer, we will be hosting a one-day multi-company training session. Each participating facility will receive an assessment, onsite training for the evening shift and a third evaluation visit with an optional train-the-trainer session. Participating companies will benefit from an effective safety and health program through reduced work-related injuries and illnesses, reduced medical expenditures, lower costs for job accommodations for injured workers, fewer faulty products, improved morale and productivity, as well as opportunities to reduce workers’ compensation costs. They will also benefit from having sanitation policies reviewed and reinforced by outside safety and health experts. Another benefit to the company is the potential to reduce severe injuries as well as the risk of equipment damage.

Our local partners for the program include Caterpillar and Bradley University. Contact me at 677-4628 for information on this opportunity. IBI