ST. LOUIS - Western Specialty Contractors is proud to announce that in 2016 it achieved its lowest OSHA Total Recordable Rate in the company's more than 100-year history. Western finished the year with a rating of 1.95; surpassing its previous best rating of 2.73 in 2014.

"As a point of reference, the industry average for our work classification is 3.8. We are almost two full points better than our competitors," said Western Safety Director Eric Olson. "We also completed the month of December with zero OSHA Recordable Injuries."

The OSHA Recordable Rate is based on injury and illness rates per 100 workers and is used to evaluate a company's safety measures. This number is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the rate of accidents and illnesses by category, such as industry, company size and region.

Western's 1.95 rating is a lofty achievement in safety considering that its line of work often requires employees to work hundreds of feet in the air on suspended scaffolds, underground in crumbling parking garages and perched atop precarious roofs, structures and monuments. Not to mention working daily with hand and power tools, lifting and carrying heavy materials, working in confined spaces and encountering a variety of environmental exposures.

An industry leader in workplace safety, Western has evolved its safety programs over the decades from the basic compliance initiatives to advanced programs that address ergonomic and soft tissue injuries. Western has also initiated a climate for safety that empowers employees to proactively take steps to evaluate their own job site activities and correct procedures to prevent accidents.

Olson also attributes Western's outstanding OSHA safety rating to the implementation of several new safety polices and measures, including:

  • Implementation of an "outside medical direction" which allows individuals to diagnose occupational injuries over the phone or via Skype or FaceTime.
  • A new policy that requires all employees on a job site to wear gloves at all times, except under specific circumstances.
  • A new employee mentor program where new employees are set up with a lead craftsman or foreman for their first six months to learn the trade. After that, new employees are evaluated on their trade skill development and safety knowledge.
  • A focus on ergonomics or body mechanics where carts, dollies and forklifts are utilized to minimize soft tissue injuries.
  • A policy that requires all employees who have worked more than 700 hours to complete an OSHA 10-hour course. Additionally, foremen are required to complete 30 hours of OSHA training and are also certified in CPR/First Aid/AED.

"We couldn't be more proud of our safety department and our employees for their dedication to safety and for achieving such a historic safety rating for Western," said Jim Rechtin, COO at Western. "It's even more incredible that we were able to achieve it, taking into account that we averaged over 900 workers and 2.1 million labor hours in 2016. At Western, safety will never be compromised. Our message is clear; if you want to work for Western, be prepared to make safety a priority."

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