Safety first: Amarr first Davie company to reach designation

Published 10:39 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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By Jeanna Baxter White

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Amarr, one of the world’s leading brands in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of sectional doors for residential and commercial markets, has been accepted into the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) by the N.C. Department of Labor.

The SHARP Program recognizes small and mid-size employers that have established, implemented, and maintained exceptional workplace safety standards. Out of more than 200,000 businesses in North Carolina, 171 are SHARP certified, and Amarr is the only facility recognized within Davie County.

“This certification is a pretty elite thing, and we are proud to be the only company in Davie County to have this designation,” said Justin Norris, safety and training manager for the company’s Mocksville manufacturing facility. “While most companies shy away from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), we wanted our employees to see that we invited them in to help us get better. That has really been our focus for the past three years, and this award is a culmination of that focus.”

According to the N.C. Department of Labor, in addition to creating a safer work environment, those achieving

SHARP excellence should have reduced operating costs, increased quality, and improved employee engagement. Other benefits include free professional safety and health mentoring, lower worker compensation costs due to fewer accidents, and a unique opportunity to join an elite group of employers that share best practices to drive continuous improvement in their health and safety programs.

Jon Riesenweber, plant manager, added that the achievement aligns with Amarr’s corporate initiatives around becoming an employer of choice and ensuring safety is first and foremost within its operation. He hopes that this proof of the company’s commitment to safety and employee well-being will also be beneficial in attracting new team members.

Amarr, based in Winston-Salem, has operated the 109,000 square-foot Mocksville facility, called the Carolina Plant, in the SouthPoint Business Park since 2007. The plant employs 150 and runs two shifts, seven days a week. During the busiest season, the company adds additional employees and a third shift.

There are inherent dangers to running industrial machinery and working with metal, so safety procedures are of the utmost importance. Norris shared that the SHARP Program application process began with inviting OSHA health and safety consultants to the facility to look at safety and training programs, OSHA compliance, and manager and team member engagement. The company spent the first year working on their recommendations.

“They looked at our machines, safety program, lock out tag out programs, evacuation procedures, hearing conservation, and health programs like the ergonomic well-being of our employees,” he said. “You must have a safety committee, and your employees must be involved. There must be procedures for tracking and investigating injuries to ensure they don’t happen again. The evaluation is all-encompassing. There is a document with 58 categories, and you must meet or exceed all those expectations.”

This year the company focused on getting its team members more involved through safety audits.

“It’s a chance for team members to tell us where they think a safety improvement could be made or where they think our next injury could occur.”

Amarr recognizes employees for their suggestions which are tracked on a display board. Last year, employees submitted 368 safety ideas, and Amarr was able to implement 218 of them. Recommendations included things like better personal protective equipment (PPE), better tools, and changes to processes to make them safer.

“The behavioral aspect of increasing team member involvement has been huge,” said Riesenweber. “They are now more active in the cause with us. This process has ensured that team members are thinking first and foremost about safety, just like we are. I believe that getting team members involved in decision-making has been a big strive within Amarr in general, not just in safety but across our entire operation. We have safety and continuous improvement teams and different initiatives to get them involved in the process with us.”

Norris added: “As a result of this process, our incident rates have continued to fall each year. We are now well below half of the industry average for metal manufacturing. With our successful improvement, I think we will qualify for a safety award from OSHA this year, as well.”

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