At Hypertherm, we believe our employees, who we refer to as our associates, are key to our success and that no associate should ever be injured at work. For that reason, our objective is zero workplace injuries or illnesses. To attain this goal, Hypertherm has fully committed to meeting and exceeding the requirements of OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) for all of its manufacturing locations. VPP is a cooperative effort between companies and OSHA, and is based on worker involvement in the development of outstanding safety management systems.
To participate, Hypertherm submitted detailed applications and underwent rigorous 5-day evaluations by teams of safety and health professionals. The OSHA team conducted a thorough walk-through of the facility, met with senior managers, conducted formal and informal interviews with employees, and combed through Hypertherm safety logs and inspection reports. To date, OSHA has approved six of Hypertherm’s major manufacturing locations for participation in VPP at the highest “Star” level.
A key component of our success was the establishment of an associate safety committee comprised of “safety champs” from each operational team. The team works to proactively prevent workplace injuries by taking part in safety inspections, soliciting safety concerns, and initiating corrective actions.
In support, Hypertherm employs ten safety coordinators who organize safety activities with safety champs in their respective areas. These champs and coordinators receive 10 hours of OSHA safety training that helps them sustain and upgrade safety awareness throughout our facilities.
In addition, Hypertherm has established a safety council, comprised of senior managers, team leaders, safety coordinators, and selected safety champs. This council sets goals and objectives, and advises on policies and procedures that support safety at Hypertherm. In addition, the council works jointly with leaders and safety champs to bring associates at all levels together in a cooperative effort to promote safety in the workplace.
Our performance is facilitated by employing the resources necessary to support the highest level of safety and well-being. The company understands it needs to invest in safety if it is to have a truly safe workplace. As such, the company employs a safety leader, safety engineer, environmental engineer, safety specialist, medical personnel, a wellness manager, and a 5S coordinator. 5S is the name of a workplace organization methodology proven to benefit workplace safety.
Hypertherm maintains an active first-aid team and members are trained in CPR, first aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogens by certified on-site trainers. Annually, all personnel, including senior managers, are required to complete a set number of training sessions.
On a periodic basis or when a process change occurs, surveys are completed by industrial hygiene professionals to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. Components of the survey are specific to the potential hazards at Hypertherm and past surveys have assessed noise and airborne contaminations of various materials. In addition, Hypertherm utilizes the services of an occupational physician who provides expert medical consultation on an as-needed basis. Also, safety shoes and safety glasses are made available at no cost to all associates.
Hypertherm conducts detailed safety evaluations on an annual basis to ensure our programs, training, and procedures are effective in reducing accidents to the lowest possible levels. In addition, formal safety audits are conducted. Results are tracked using Hypertherm’s safety tracking program, called Safety Track, to ensure findings are quickly addressed.
A software management system records and addresses opportunities for improvement. The system is available to all associates who are encouraged to use it. Thousands of ideas are submitted every year. Hypertherm also uses a computer-based maintenance work order system. All associates have access to this system, which includes a safety designated category that prioritizes safety issues. Personal computers, located throughout the facility, make it easy to submit ideas and work requests.
Hypertherm’s culture promotes the reporting of any incident involving a near miss, property damage, or an injury. Near misses, first aid, and OSHA-recordable incidents are the primary information utilized to analyze trends at Hypertherm. All incidents are listed on a spread sheet and categorized according to the type and severity of injury. In 2012, more than 150 formal incident reports were logged and most of the incidents were at the near miss or first-aid level. Surprisingly to some, the company has found that as incident reporting has gone up, the number of serious accidents—and money spent on workmans’ compensation—has gone down by a corresponding amount.
The incidents are analyzed and individual metrics developed at the team level. Each team maintains metrics which are then posted in each team’s data board, reviewed at pre-shift meetings, and presented during monthly safety meetings.
All required and proactive work practice controls are in place at Hypertherm to address site risks. Control measures are outlined extensively in formal written policies, procedures, and work instructions. These documents are controlled through a computerized document control system and revisions are tracked and routed through a review process before the document is released for use.
So far, Hypertherm’s efforts are working. By making safety part of the company’s regular process and involving all associates, Hypertherm has dropped its injury and illness rates to levels unheard of for a manufacturer. Its 3-year incidence rate is at around 1 percent, which is up to 86 percent below rates found at similar companies. ■
For More Information:
For more information about Hypertherm and its mission for safety, visit
Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2013
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