Simmons' Charlotte facility a cut above the industry safety standard

RP news wires
Tags: workplace safety, manufacturing

The North Carolina Department of Labor has honored Simmons Bedding Company’s Charlotte, N.C., manufacturing facility as a participant in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) for the third consecutive time. SHARP is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program that recognizes companies who have earned the honor by providing an exemplary safety and health management environment for their employees. Acceptance by OSHA into SHARP signifies that an employer stands apart from its business peers as a model of workplace safety and health.

“Recertification of SHARP makes a serious statement about a company’s dedication to employee safety,” said Jonathan Dawe, Simmons’ director of safety, health, wellness and workers’ compensation. “To reach this stage takes a meaningful and ongoing commitment to creating and maintaining a safe work environment for all our employees. You’ll find the same culture of safety that is present at our Charlotte plant at every Simmons facility.”

To participate in SHARP, employers must request a consultation with OSHA at which all hazards are identified and corrected, and the site’s workplace injuries and time lost due to injuries must be below the national average. SHARP participants must also notify OSHA of any changes in workplace conditions or hazards.

Simmons’ Charlotte facility has gone more than 780 days without a recordable safety incident, and during 2008 and 2009, the plant had zero recordable safety incidents, making it one of the safest worksites in North Carolina. No work-related injuries mean there are no workers’ compensation-related costs, a savings that adds to Simmons’ bottom line. In addition, as safety numbers have improved, so have the plant's productivity and quality levels.

Simmons credits the facility’s safety success to its comprehensive safety program, which includes an autonomous plant safety committee made up of mostly floor workers and select management personnel. The safety committee is divided into teams that are each responsible for a different element of the safety system, such as forklift truck safety, chemical safety and personal protective equipment. Each safety committee team manages its own budget and ensures that program implementation is employee-driven. Because committee members can correct possible safety problems without management approval, the program enables potential issues to be quickly and effectively addressed. An added benefit is that committee members gain leadership and management skills in the process, helping Simmons develop leaders within the company.

Simmons commemorated the recertification of Simmons’ Charlotte facility with employees at a plant-wide celebration this past November. Among those in attendance was North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry. “Of the more than 280,000 businesses here in North Carolina, only 88 sites have been certified in the SHARP initiative. This Simmons facility serves as an example to other North Carolina businesses for how to create a safe and healthy work environment,” said Berry.

Simmons is the only major bedding manufacturer to have facilities that participate in SHARP and in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP Merit and VPP Star). In 2008, Simmons posted an OSHA recordable incidence rate of 3.2, the lowest in company history and less than half the 7.1 incidence rate posted by the furniture industry that year. Simmons’ incidence rate is also significantly lower than the mattress manufacturing incidence rate of 6.2 for the same period.

Simmons has worked closely with OSHA to ensure that all of its plants are enrolled in cooperative safety programs. In addition to the Charlotte facility, Simmons’ plants in Agawam, Mass.; Honolulu; Kansas City, Kan.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Waycross, Ga., have also been accepted into SHARP. Additional safety honors include the Janesville, Wis., and Phoenix plants’ receipt of VPP Star status, the Aurora, Colo., plant’s receipt of VPP Merit status and the Los Angeles and San Leandro, Calif., plants’ receipt of Cal/OSHA’s Golden Gate Partnership Recognition Award for Safety.

About Simmons Bedding Company
Atlanta-based Simmons Bedding Company is one of the world's largest mattress manufacturers, manufacturing and marketing a broad range of products including Beautyrest, Beautyrest Black, Beautyrest NxG, Beautyrest Studio, BeautySleep, ComforPedic by Simmons, Natural Care and Beautyrest Beginnings. Simmons Bedding operates 19 conventional bedding manufacturing facilities and one juvenile bedding manufacturing facility across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Simmons Bedding also serves as a key supplier of beds to many of the world’s leading hotel groups and resort properties. Simmons Bedding is committed to developing superior mattresses and promoting a higher quality sleep for consumers around the world.

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