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Safety - 2004 Awards
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2004 OAN Safety Awards

Three firms honored for their commitment to safety

Photos courtesy of the OAN Safety Committee

Three Oregon Association of Nurseries member companies were honored for their work in the area of employee safety. Each year, the OAN Safety Committee accepts nominations and selects firms to receive the annual OAN Safety Awards.

This year's recipients include J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., winner of Best Safety Idea; Hines Horticulture Inc., which received the OAN Member Award; and Sun Gro Horticulture Inc., which received the Associate Member Award.

Each of the companies provides a work environment where safety is a part of daily operation, where safety meetings are held regularly, safety ideas and improvements are encouraged, and workers' comp insurance ratings are low.

Best Safety Idea -- J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.: The Boring, Ore., nursery developed a means to load B&B with a mechanical lift. Employees' ingenuity has led them to a device that brings together components that include a half-ton hoist from U.S. Crane & Hoist Co., a grapple that was developed specifically by company employees and controls that were once wireless transmitter elements from a remote-control toy truck.

Known as a potting clamp, the apparatus is suspended from the half-ton jib crane and can lift large B&B trees as high as 17 feet before placing them into containers for potting. The clamp is operated by the radio remote controls mounted in the clamp handles. This allows a single operator to position the clamp over the ball, lift the ball and lower it into the pot while keeping both hands on the safety handles and away from potential clamp pinch points. The wireless remote controls allow the clamp to turn freely without tangling in electrical cables.

Handling large B&B trees with this device will reduce strains on employees' backs, arms and legs and will help control workers' compensation claims costs. The machine is powerful enough to handle large B&B trees yet nimble enough to maneuver smaller, delicate materials.

The clamp was developed by nursery staff, including Greg Elwell, farm manager; Kris Wright, assistant farm manager; Angel Ponce-Bustamante, hourly foreman; and Brian Kirkpatrick, irrigation construction supervisor. John Masse in maintenance is the genius behind the remote controls. The clamp itself was fabricated in the farm shop.

"The grapple and hoist have been in production for the 2004 potting season," the company's safety award application reads. "The response from the workers has been very positive. A job that normally would be rotated like the rest of the positions on the potting line and regarded as a strenuous position has become a requested job."

Hines Group

Developers of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.'s award-winning B&B clamp apparatus (from left) Brian Kirkpatrick, Angel Ponce-Bustamante, John Masse and Kris Wright accept the award certificate (in the clamp jaws) from Jack Davis, OAN Safety Committee chair.

OAN Safety Award-Member Nursery -- Hines Horticulture Inc.: Highlights from the Forest Grove, Ore., company's application include having 250 full-time employees and 200 seasonal workers with 730 days since the firm's last time-loss claim and a safety committee that meets twice monthly.

Hines has a program that includes a monthly safety rally where they talk about safety issues, regular demonstrations on safety topics and team cheers for safety (best cheers win a free lunch, on or off site). The company keeps a monthly calendar of safety topics that various teams talk about in weekly safety tailgate meetings. On Thursdays, all employees wear a safety shirt or safety sticker to show support for safety. Team leaders are given an accident log of current year's accidents and past years' accidents to discuss in team meetings. The company also holds a yearly Health Fair for all employees to attend.

Accepting the OAN Safety Award from OAN Safety Committee member Ed Galinat (right) on behalf of Hines Horticulture Inc. are (from left) Amelia Cordova, Pam Schmitz, Don Merrick, Marsha Pickett, Gustavo Campuzano, Lori Lesmeister and Clay Starke.

Hines Group

OAN Safety Award-Associate Member -- Sun Gro Horticulture: The numbers do not lie. The 25-year-old Hubbard, Ore., business has 25 full-time workers, has gone 684 days since its last time-loss accident and has a mod rating of .72.

Experience Rating modifiers (mods) are adjustments to workers' compensation rates that take into account differences between the loss performance of individual employers. "It is a mandatory 'merit-rating plan' that effectively discounts premiums for those employers who perform better than the rates would predict and surcharges employers with poorer losses than the rates would predict," said Michael Hartman of the SAIF Corporation, a workers' compensation insurance carrier that works with several OAN members.

The company instituted a safety incentive program called gainsharing and is looking into a new safety idea of having a permit process in place when confined-space pesticide and herbicide applications are made. Of special note is their work toward becoming SHARP certified through the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA).

SHARP is a recognition program that provides an incentive and road map for Oregon employers to work with their employees to find and correct hazards, to develop and implement effective safety and health programs, to continuously improve, and to become self-sufficient in managing occupational safety and health. The overall goal of SHARP is to recognize those employers who have achieved an exemplary level of occupational safety and health management, to reduce injuries and illnesses and to provide a means for showing other employers that occupational safety and health can work for everyone.

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