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For immediate release: October 25, 2013

Millersburg and Loudonville employers join elite group of safest in Ohio

BWC honors Mast and ITL for dedication to safety

Holmes & Ashland Counties - Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer today recognized Mast Farm Service in Millersburg and Industrial Timber and Lumber Company in Loudonville for attaining Safety and Health Achievement Program (SHARP) status through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). The facilities, only 30 miles apart, are now two of only 28 SHARP-certified employers across the state.

"Reaching SHARP status is a challenge that can only be met by those companies with a strong safety culture with management and employees who are proactive in taking the steps necessary to prevent accidents and injuries," said Buehrer. "I applaud Mast and ITL for taking such great care in shoring up safety processes and encourage all employers to partner with BWC to prevent accidents and keep Ohioans safe on the job."

BWC is the OSHA On-Site Consultation program coordinator of the SHARP program, which recognizes small employers that operate exemplary safety and health management systems. The program provides incentives and support to smaller, high-hazard employers to develop, implement and continuously improve effective safety and health programs at their work site(s). BWC consultants assist businesses in creating safety programs and identifying hazards that need corrected to achieve SHARP status, a process that can take from 12 to 24 months. As a reward for their efforts, OSHA grants SHARP employers a one-year exemption from general schedule inspections, with the opportunity to renew for three more years of exemptions.

During separate ceremonies today, Buehrer presented the companies with plaques and SHARP flags that can be flown over their facilities.

Mast took several steps related to reducing the risk of fire and explosions that can occur while spray painting. The company also rewards employees for reporting hazards and near misses.

In addition, its "Character First" series encourages personal attributes that lead to successful work and home life skills.

"Attaining SHARP status has been a fulfilling experience for me and the employees at Mast Farm Service," said Mast Farm Services owner Eli Mast. "Without their full support this journey would not have been possible. The safety and health of everyone involved is part of our culture on a daily basis, for the benefit of our families and community."

ITL undertook a special effort to reduce employee exposure to diesel particulates from forklifts.

Increasing airflow within the facility, installing mufflers on all the diesel-powered forklifts, and using fuel additives have all increased worker safety and reduced exposure.

"SHARP status is earned only by those who have the sincere desire to make workplace safety their first priority," said Industrial Timber & Lumber Company President Larry Evans. "I commend our dedicated team at ITL's Loudonville division for this achievement. With the continued assistance and cooperation of the BWC, ITL will set a new goal of maintaining its SHARP status."

Consultants with BWC's Division of Safety & Hygiene are available to help small businesses create and implement safety programs and identify hazards. The On-Site Consultation program is one of many safety-related programs available to Ohio employers wishing to address and improve safety and wellness in their workplaces. Call 1-800-644-6292 or visit BWC.ohio.gov for more information.

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