WAHPETON, N.D.—WCCO Belting Inc. has made safety a major priority over the past two years.
Others are taking notice.
The 67-year-old rubber manufacturer recently received the "Workplace Safety Merit Award" and the "Safety Improvement Award" from the North Dakota Safety Council for reducing the company's incident rate by 50.2 percent from 2019 to 2020.
To qualify for the Safety Improvement Award, a company has to show that its calculated OSHA incident rate was lowered a minimum of 50 percent over the course of a year.
The Workplace Safety Merit Award is given to NDSC member companies showing an Experience Modification Rate below 1 for the year 2020. EMR is a metric insurers use to calculate worker's compensation premiums, taking into account the number of claims/injuries a company has had in the past and their corresponding costs.
"As a family-owned business, we view every employee as part of our work family," Rod Koch, vice president of operations at WCCO Belting, said in a statement. "Their safety is just as important as the safety of our own families. 2021 will continue to be a growth year for us in safety, as all years should be. We are getting more members of our production workforce involved, powering up our safety training, and continuing to hone our policies and procedures."
Two years ago, WCCO set a goal of restructuring its safety and health program, appointing a dedicated safety coordinator, Stefani Mikkelson, and joining the NDSC. Company officials attended the NDSC conference in February 2020, "and over the course of the year conducted many other tasks to help keep our employees safe and lower our incident rate," Koch said.
Four members of the safety team became nationally accredited first aid, CPR and AED certified instructors. WCCO has since trained and retrained 100 percent of the company's internal first responders across all shifts. More than 10 percent of the workforce at WCCO are now trained first responders, WCCO said.
WCCO also revised its comprehensive site safety manual with the help of NDSC, which provided input into the company's overall safety programs. The company said it revamped its root-cause analysis for near misses and accidents, updated its bi-weekly safety inspections and is implementing a Safety Standout Award to recognize employees who keep themselves and others safe at work.
"At WCCO, safety truly is our number one priority," Koch said. "When you walk in the front door, you recognize this immediately when we review with you our safety trifold outlining our safety policy, emergency exits, PPE requirements, and other safety related items."
Rick Halldorson, senior safety consultant, and Jen Ackert, development coordinator, from NDSC visited WCCO Belting on May 17 to present the awards at a private ceremony.