HOISINGTON —Continual improvement is important in all aspects of business, and the safety arena is no exception. On Jan. 26, Superior Essex was recognized by the Kansas Department of Labor, Division of Industrial Safety and Health, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for exceptional safety practices, achievements, and employee commitment toward a safe work environment.
Although Superior Essex has a proven record of outstanding safety performance, they wanted to challenge themselves to an even higher standard of continual improvement. So, in March of 2010, plant management decided to work toward obtaining the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program designation from the Kansas Department of Labor. This program has several criteria that a company must meet in order to qualify. It mirrors the Voluntary Protection Program designed and administered by OSHA. KDOL must make the recommendation for acceptance into the SHARP program, but final approval is made by the Regional OSHA office.
The program was researched and the work began. Within five months, the Hoisington Plant met all of the requirements of the SHARP program - a record achievement according to the state. The SHARP Coordinator from KDOL was extremely impressed with the plant’s safety and health program, management and employee commitment to a safe work environment, and the level of involvement in implementing and maintaining such an excellent safety and health program. Therefore, following the final visit, the KDOL made the recommendation to OSHA to accept the Hoisington plant into the SHARP program.
On Nov. 1, 2010, the plant was officially notified by OSHA that they were being accepted into the SHARP program. The Regional OSHA Administrator wrote in his letter, "I congratulate you and the employees of Superior Essex, Hoisington plant, for your efforts to implement and maintain an excellent safety and health program. I am very pleased to be able to provide you with a Certificate of Recognition under the SHARP Exemption Program which will be presented during your ceremony scheduled for a later date."
The ceremony was held Jan. 26,. State and local dignitaries were invited to attend, including the governor, lieutenant governor, legislators, various federal and regional OSHA Officers, KDOL officers, county commissioners and city officials. Brent Rensch, who was plant manager in 2010 when Superior Essex was accepted into the program, and Mike Klepper, current plant manager, were presented with a plaque from the KDOL, as well as the official SHARP flag. Although OSHA representatives were unable to attend, they did send a plaque to Superior Essex, which was presented by the KDOL on behalf of OSHA. Almost 200 people – employees and dignitaries – were in attendance for the celebration. Safety Awards were distributed to all employees.
During the ceremony, Terri Sanchez, Lead SHARP Coordinator, and Cliff Morris, acting director of the Industrial Safety and Health Division of KDOL, emphasized that SHARP recognition is a very prestigious award to receive. Out of 76,000 employers in Kansas, only 158 employers have achieved SHARP. In fact, the SHARP award is the highest award the U.S. Federal Government can bestow upon a small business working with consultation in the area of safety and health.