Consistency is key for manufacturing safety

International Paper, a large manufacturing company with locations in Pennsylvania and across the nation, is struggling with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration as a result of workplace fatalities in the past few years. In 2009, an employee had been killed by a timber loading crane, but 18 months previous, OSHA had awarded a different facility an award for their commitment to the health and safety of their employees.

This kind of inconsistency from one plant to another, especially with large companies like this one, with locations in 46 states, can be problematic not only for workers, but also for the home office staff who are charged with fixing these problems. Like anything else, the variations from one location to another are to be expected. However, OSHA requirements are national -- with identical processes and protocols regardless of location.

International Paper is now making a concerted effort to create more consistency across locations in order to ensure that their workers are safe and healthy. Though it may be a challenge for a company to standardize practices, the workplace safety requirements are enacted for good reason. An additional challenge for large businesses is keeping track of their many employees and compliance with administrative aspects, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Workers who are concerned about the safety protocols in their workplace ought to contact OSHA to report them. For workers who have been injured as a result of poor safety protocols at work, there are legal options to consider, including workers' compensation and personal injury claims to help with medical costs, pain and suffering and lost wages.

Source: Risk and Insurance, "Rolling to Consistency," Cyril Touhy, Nov. 1, 2012

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