NEWELL, W.Va.—Marsh Bellofram is making sure safety comes first.
The firm gave members of the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers a tour of its Newell operations on March 8. And while Marsh Bellofram admitted it must continue to improve, it's already established a strong safety culture.
"I've been with several different companies," Chief Operating Officer Kyle Briggs said. "I've been here for about 14 months and I'm very impressed with the safety culture that's already going on here. The commitment by management is there, we talk about it quite regularly. I start all of my staff meetings with a safety moment. It could be something on the job or something that happened at home."
The firm consists of many businesses, but the Elastomer Division makes up about one third of Marsh Bellofram's total sales, consisting of its diaphragms and silicones operations. The diaphragms side is one of its most mature businesses, fully dedicated to molding organic rubbers like nitriles and neoprene with more than 100 presses in varying sizes.
Bellofram Silicones is split with about 60 percent of that business coming from extruded silicone goods and the remaining from molding operations.
Briggs said the firm is striving to reduce its OSHA incidents to 15 in 2017, and then subtract at least five more the following year until the number gets all the way to zero. Those incidents have been trending down each year thanks to strategic focuses on different areas throughout the plant.
"Our preference would be to have it at zero," Briggs said. "But we were almost at 30 (before) and got it down to 20. We just want to keep driving it down over the next few years. Our concentration this year is on hands, cuts or burns. So far this year it's been good. But we don't want to take our eye off the ball."
There are more than 350 employees at the 200,000-sq.-ft. site. Briggs said the average age of service is 13 years, average age is 49 and 143 people are at least 50 years old, with six people in their 70s and 46 people in their 60s.
Like most in the rubber industry, Marsh Bellofram faces the challenge of finding qualified young employees to transfer knowledge to as its current work force begins to retire.