BWC honors five Ohio employers for workplace safety innovations

By Jeff Hutchins, Manager, BWC Quality Assurance & Technical Safety Support

We recently awarded cash prizes to five Ohio employers as part of our annual Safety Innovation Awards. We typically announce the winners at our annual Ohio Safety Congress & Expo, which did not take place as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.    

The awards recognize a handful of Ohio employers for developing innovative solutions to safety concerns in their workplaces. Because in-person judging did not happen at safety congress, we made the decision to award the five finalists $3,500 each.

More recently, we decided to place the awards on hiatus for 2021. We will use this time to review the program and prepare to return for 2022. 

“The COVID-19 emergency has forced us to adapt the way we do many things, including our Safety Innovation Awards,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “Even though we couldn’t provide these finalists the usual ceremony at safety congress, we applaud them for their innovative spirit and commitment to protecting their workers.”

This week, we’ve been posting videos on social media about this year’s award winners. If you missed them, you can learn about all the award winners below.

Diversified Fall Protection (Westlake) – Portable Truss Anchor

Diversified Fall Protection engineers, manufacturers, and distributes fall-protection equipment.

In an industrial setting, working at a height above machinery poses a fall hazard. Unstable ladders and limited styles of fall protection when working in such an environment are ineffective. Contributing to this hazard is the practice of tying off to structures that are not capable of supporting the load if a fall does take place.

This innovation is a portable personal fall protection anchor that installs quickly overhead into the opening of the bottom chord of a roof application. The Portable Truss Anchor uses the overhead truss system in a building to create an Occupational Safety and Health Administration-compliant anchorage point for working in high places. Unlike permanently attached fall protection anchor systems that require a self-retracting lanyard at each location, the Portable Truss Anchor is an alternative solution that installs in minutes – where and when workers need it.

More than 1,000 workers currently use the Portable Truss Anchor with no reported fall-related injures associated with its use.

Watch a video about Diversified Fall Protection’s Portable Truss Anchor on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

Fort Amanda Specialties (Lima) – Custom Cleaning-in-Place Safety Solution

Fort Amanda Specialties LLC is a joint venture of Nouryon and BASF Corporation. It is a chemical producer of high-quality chelates.

The production process uses transport screws to move solid product in a multi-product processing unit. Cleaning out these screws during product changes created safety exposures as workers had to remove the lids to wash the screws. This exposed workers to unguarded moving machinery, high-pressure water spray, and slip hazards from overspray on walking-working surfaces.

The company designed custom-made wash lids with Plexiglass windows for inspection as well as permanently mounted spray nozzles inside.  

The solution eliminates contact with moving equipment and exposure to high-pressure water. The enclosure contains wash water, reducing water use and eliminating slip hazards.

Watch a video about Fort Amanda Specialties’ Custom Cleaning-in-Place Solution on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

Mt. Vernon City Schools (Knox County) – Rapid Barricade

Mt. Vernon City Schools is a school district serving 3,800 students at six elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and a digital academy. 

If a school or other public building experiences a threat, most will activate a lock-down procedure. Door locking devices must be easy to deploy and remove and must withstand extreme force. Some locking devices do not comply with building/fire codes, require facility modifications to install or tools to deploy, and some require workers to verify deployment from a public area (i.e. the hallway), which exposes them to the threat.

The need was for a temporary door-locking device that meets all the fire code and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and was always available, not stored somewhere.

School maintenance personnel worked with a local machine shop to create the now-patented Rapid Barricade. Workers can install the Rapid Barricade on any ADA-compliant door. It deploys in seconds and can withstand 1,200 pounds of force.

Watch a video about Mount Vernon City Schools’ Rapid Barricade on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

TFO Tech Co., LTD (Jeffersonville) – Furnace Pulley Unloader

TFO Tech Co. LTD produces automotive wheel hubs, crankshafts, CVT pulleys, and other parts.

Workers had to manually rake 10- to 13-pound parts approximately 2.5 feet into a bin as the parts exited the heat treat furnace. The parts coming from the furnace are near 300 degrees Celsius, meaning excessive heat was a hazard. The raking motion also exposed workers to ergonomic hazards – shoulder, elbow, back, and chest were the main areas of the body affected.

The innovation drops down and encloses the parts in a steel frame. The frame slides the product off the side of the conveyor and into the basket. Rather than manually raking the parts, workers complete the process with the push of a button. This removes the physical (ergonomic) aspect of the process and reduces the employees’ heat exposure because the operator’s panel is about 5 feet farther from the hot parts than the original operating position.

Watch a video about TFO Tech Co., LTD.’s Furnace Pulley Unloader on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America (Hamilton) – Near Miss Reporting App

thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America manufactures shock absorbers for high-performance automobiles, motorsports, and off-road vehicles.

In a manufacturing facility that works around the clock with nearly 700 employees, unsafe acts and unsafe conditions were occurring. Unfortunately, they were often not reported, nor addressed. Before implementation, workers reported an average of four near misses per month, most coming from a few supervisors. Reporting was a cumbersome process, requiring the worker to download a four-page document from the intranet before completing it, printing it, and having it signed by multiple people.

This innovation changed the reporting process from a tedious paper document to a short, quick, and easy electronic submission via app. The company developed it using web-based software called Smartsheet. Now, any worker can submit the online form in the app, which inputs the information into a database similar to an Excel spreadsheet.

Near miss reports have increased from approximately 48 per year to more than 500 per year. The company’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable rate dropped from 3.03 to .91, and its lost-time accident rate dropped from 3.61 to 0.

Watch a video about thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America’s Near Miss Reporting App on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

Big news! Your Safety Innovation could be worth $10,000

BWC increases prize amount for annual awards

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Have you thought about applying for our Safety Innovation Awards in years past but put it off or forgot to do it? We have at least 4,000 more reasons for you to not delay any further!

To encourage applications and reward innovation more than ever, we have raised the prize amounts for our 2020 Safety Innovation Awards. The top prize is now $10,000, up from $6,000! Second place receives $6,000, third place $4,000, and honorable mention receives $1,500.

Our Safety Innovation Awards celebrate creative solutions that improve the safety and health in Ohio workplaces. Examples of innovations include:

  • Technological advancements.
  • Creative use of existing equipment.
  • Unique processes and practices.
  • Development of new equipment.

If your organization has developed any of the above to reduce the workplace risks faced by Ohio workers, we want to hear from you. Don’t wait, you have only until Sept. 30 to apply.

Winners in past years include a Mercer County company that captured first place with a device it developed for loading hogs into a trailer with minimal stress to the hogs and potential for injury to workers. Last year, the Springfield company Navistar captured first place with a robotic system that minimized worker exposure to a particularly strenuous procedure involved in the tearing down and welding of truck cabs.

This year’s finalists will receive the previously-mentioned cash awards and statewide recognition at our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo in Columbus March 11-13, 2020. You can check out descriptions of all the 2019 finalists’ innovations here.

We hope the past finalists and their ideas will inspire you to apply for the 2020 awards. If you have any questions about the program, email or call 1-800-644-6292.

We look forward to seeing your innovations!

Safety Innovation Awards finalists show their ingenuity

By Jeffrey Hutchins, Industrial Hygiene Technical Advisor

The ingenuity many Ohio employers use to overcome workplace hazards is always inspiring. To spotlight these employers, their innovative spirit and their commitment to workplace safety, we sponsor our annual Safety Innovation Awards.

We created the program to recognize innovations that result in risk reduction, cost savings, and potential application to other workplaces, industries or operations. Innovations can range from a newly–created piece of equipment, tool, process or method to an existing one that an employer has improved or uses in a new or creative way.

After careful consideration, we are pleased to introduce the following employers as the four finalists for the 2019 Safety Innovation Awards.

Francis Manufacturing Company (Russia) – Hapman Sand Conveyance System

Francis Manufacturing Company is a family-owned aluminum sand foundry that produces castings weighing fractions of an ounce to several hundred pounds. The sand molding process required approximately 20 workers to shovel sand from floor level into the molding machines. This could require workers to shovel more than 20,000 pounds of sand per nine-hour shift, resulting in significant ergonomic risks for back and upper extremity injuries.

Francis Manufacturing Company worked with Hapman, a material handling equipment company, to design a hopper-conveyor system. Workers now fill the hopper with a skid steer loader, eliminating the shoveling. The conveyor automatically dispenses sand into molds, further reducing upper extremity ergonomic risks.

Since installing the first unit in April 2015, the company has not experienced a musculoskeletal injury in the molding area. Automating the molder’s sand handling has resulted in reduced absenteeism and increased production. Workers have reported increased energy at the end of shifts and have fewer complaints of back and shoulder pain.

J&R Farms (Mount Vernon) – Grain Engulfment Prevention/Retrieval System

J&R Farms is a multi-location grain cooperative with day-to-day operations focusing on storing, drying and handling grain. During unloading, the grain flows downward from the top center of the bin, creating a “funnel” effect, drawing material and objects down to the conveyor where an unloading auger at the bottom of the bin transports the grain outside. Therefore, workers need fall and engulfment protection when accessing grain bins for maintenance or housekeeping.

J&R Farms installed a grain engulfment prevention/retrieval system inside the bins that provides a high anchor point at the bin peak and an anchor point/davit arm mounting sleeve outside the roof access manway. A lifeline and belay line protect workers before entering the bin and while they are inside it. A linear cable fall protection system, across the roof of the control room, provides proper tie-off for workers. J&R Farms also installed tie-off points and temporary anchor slings in several frequently-accessed locations on the outside of the bin as well as a fall protection system under the loadout tank (hopper area). Select entry points also have a bin entry kit consisting of pre-rigged/pre-tied: main line, belay line, haul system, lift bag, two rescue-style padded harnesses and a “Y”-lanyard. Finally, workers can deploy an aluminum davit arm retrieval system to rescue a victim out of a bin and lower them safely to the ground.

Although the rescue system has not been deployed in a rescue to date, workers frequently use tie-off points during maintenance and housekeeping to provide 100-percent fall protection and peace of mind to workers.

TERYDON Inc. (Navarre) – Touch-Screen Tablet Wireless Control (a.k.a. “Lunch Box”)

TERYDON Inc. is primarily focused on designing and manufacturing high-pressure water jet systems, tooling and accessories. High-pressure water jet cleaning exposes workers to serious laceration hazards from direct contact with the water jet and chemical hazards associated with the material they are cleaning. Exposure to slips, trips and falls, excessive noise, and ergonomic stresses are also common when workers are positioning jetting lances, hoses and cables.

TERYDON designed and built a tablet-based controller that allows the operator to control the water jet via a Bluetooth®-connected device. This removes operators from the point of water jet operation, effectively eliminating their exposure to slip/trip/fall, laceration, chemical, noise and ergonomic hazards associated with manual manipulation of the hoses and cables.

Since introducing the innovation in 2013, Lunch Box users have experienced no water jet-related injuries due to chemical contact, water jet lacerations or repetitive motion injuries. Users also report a significant increase in productivity due to the Lunch Box’s ability to simultaneously control multiple water jet lances. It has also eliminated the need for frequent breaks associated with manual water jetting.

Yoder Drilling & Geothermal Inc. (Sugarcreek) – Geothermal Grouter Pipe/Loop Reel

Yoder Drilling & Geothermal Inc. provides installation of vertical, horizontal and pond loop geothermal applications.

Prior to the innovation, workers would manually force up to 200 feet of geothermal pipe down the pre-drilled hole. Additionally, they would also push down the grout hose that back-fills the hole once the pipe is in place. This exposed workers to repetitive strain injuries from pushing/pulling tasks, as well as heat/cold stress and slips/trips/falls from slippery drilling spoils. Yoder worked with several manufacturers to build a hydraulically-powered hose reel to eliminate virtually all manual pushing/pulling. The worker now controls the powered reel from a skid steer rather than pushing/pulling the hose. This also removes them from the slippery ground surrounding the borehole.

Since introducing the innovation in 2016, the company has not experienced any repetitive strain or slip/trip/fall-related injuries. The powered hose reel has increased production and efficiency. Finally, it has allowed Yoder to bid on work it previously deferred because the larger diameter hose a job required could not be manually inserted.

The four finalists will be on hand at the Safety Innovation Awards booth at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19) March 6-8 in Columbus. Stop by to learn more about the innovations when you’re at OSC19.

We will present awards and monetary prizes to the finalists during OSC19, but the real winners are the employees of these companies. Innovations like the ones above help workers stay safe and healthy, increase productivity and morale, and produce long-term cost savings.

Time’s running out to apply for our Safety Innovation Awards!

Attention Ohio employers! The application deadline for the 2018 Safety Innovation Awards is just around the corner. To spotlight innovative Ohio employers and their ingenuity, we’re once again seeking entries for our Safety Innovation Award Program.

This annual program awards cash prizes from $1,000 to $6,000 to employers that develop innovative solutions to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses to their employees.

Public and private employers may apply online on our website by Sept. 30.

Finalists will attend Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19) in Columbus on March 6-8, 2019, to present their innovations to a judges’ panel and the public.

OSC19 attendees will determine the recipient of The People’s Choice award. We will present the awards during a ceremony at Safety Congress. Learn more about last year’s winners in the video below.

In addition to cash prizes, finalists and their innovations are:

  • Spotlighted in the Safety Congress event guide seen by thousands of attendees.
  • Featured in an area entirely dedicated to them in the Expo Marketplace at OSC19.
  • Honored in a ceremony at Safety Congress.

We can’t wait to see the ingenious and creative innovation you’ve developed to keep your workers safer and healthier on the job. Apply today!

If you have any questions about the program, email or call us at 1-800-644-6292.

Your workplace safety innovation could be a winner!

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Has your organization developed a new piece of equipment, tool or process to reduce risk to your workforce? Have you made changes to an existing method to improve safety and health in your workplace?  If so, you could earn a cash prize for your ingenuity by applying for a BWC Safety Innovation Award.

The application period for our 2019 Safety Innovation Awards is now open! We’re seeking innovative and creative solutions that reduce risk, create cost savings, and that have potential application to other workplaces, industries or operations.

If you are an Ohio employer – or know one – that has taken an innovative step to reduce risk of injury or illness, check out the award criteria and application.

We’re accepting applications until Sept. 30, 2018. Finalists will receive cash awards, ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 and statewide recognition at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo in Columbus March 6 to 8, 2019.

Last year’s finalists included innovations such as a remote-controlled vacuuming system for cleaning clarifier tanks and an articulating arm that assists workers when doing weld tear-downs on truck cabs. You can check out descriptions and videos of all the 2018 finalists’ innovations.

We hope the past finalists and their ideas will inspire you to apply for the 2019 awards. If you have any questions about the program, email or call 1-800-644-6292.

We look forward to seeing your innovative approaches to eliminating workplace risks and hazards!

BWC spotlights employers’ workplace safety ingenuity

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

At BWC, we’re constantly amazed at the innovative ideas employers have for tackling workplace hazards. To spotlight these employers, their ingenuity and their commitment to workplace safety, we sponsor our annual Safety Innovation Awards.

We created the program to recognize innovations that result in risk reduction, cost savings, and potential application to other workplaces, industries or operations. Innovations can range from a newly–created piece of equipment, tool, process or method to an existing one that an employer has improved or uses in a new or creative way.

After careful consideration of dozens of applications and visits to the sites of eight semifinalists, we are pleased to announce the following employers as the four finalists for the 2018 Safety Innovation Awards.

MPW Industrial Services (Hebron) – M1-RV crawler
A remote-controlled vacuuming system that cleans clarifier tanks; it eliminates employee exposure from hazards of entering and cleaning clarifier tanks

Navistar (Springfield) – Cab destructive weld tear down
An articulating arm that holds a worker’s pneumatic tool during weld tear down of truck cabs; it reduces the potential of falling, bad postures and awkward positions due to high reaction forces on employees during the process

Ramco Electric Motors (Greenville) – Aluminum die-casting automated biscuit return
A conveyor system that delivers aluminum die-casting byproducts (aka “biscuits”) from the casting machine back to the 1,300-degree liquid aluminum bath; the system eliminates the exposures of an individual performing the task of dropping the biscuits back in the crucible

Terracon Consultants Inc. (Cincinnati) – YM3000 pin puller
A redesigned T-handle that is adjustable in height and allows employees to remain standing when pulling 28-inch pins (used for soil density readings) from the ground; it decreases the potential of back or wrist strains from pin pulling, helps reduce fatigue and increases productivity

The four finalists will present their innovations to a three-judge panel and the public at our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2018 (OSC18) in Columbus on March 7-9.

The panel of independent judges will select the winners using a number of criteria, including risk reduction, innovation, return on investment, potential for other employers to use the innovation and presentation quality. OSC18 attendees can cast a vote for their favorite innovation to determine the recipient of The People’s Choice award.

We will present the awards and monetary prizes during a ceremony at OSC18. However, the real winners are the employees of these companies. Innovations like the ones listed above help workers stay safe and healthy, increase productivity and morale, and produce long-term cost savings.

Is your company the next great Ohio innovator?



By Bernie Silkowski, Director of Technical Services and Support, Division of Safety & Hygiene

Throughout the years Ohio has embodied the spirit of innovation.

Ohio pioneers such as Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers made the world rethink what was possible and put Ohio on the map as a hotbed of ingenuity.

More than a century later, Ohio’s employers still carry on this innovative spirit with newer and safer ways to make their products and provide services to the public. While it may not be as history-changing as inventing the light bulb or making powered flight a reality, Ohio employers continue to innovate today.

In keeping with this spirit of innovation, we created the Safety Innovation Awards program to recognize employers for their unique solutions that reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses. In addition to recognition, we’re also awarding cash prizes ranging up to $6,000.

If your company or organization has come up with a great idea to protect your workforce, we want to hear from you. We have received many applications and we are expecting more. You have until Sept. 30 to apply, so don’t delay!

For more information on how to apply, click here. This pre-recorded webinar will help guide you through the application process. Submit any questions you may have to, or call 1-800-644-6292.

We look forward to learning about your innovation!

What does it mean to innovate?

SafetyInnovationsWebHeaderBy Bernie Silkowski, Director of Technical Services and Support, Division of Safety & Hygiene

What does it mean to innovate?  Is it to come up with a new idea or invent a new product or service?  Does modifying an existing process or applying it in a different way qualify as being innovative?

Actually, innovate means to go beyond conceiving or building the idea, invention, or modification by turning it into something that is useful, meaningful, and adds value.  In the case of safety and health, innovation means turning it into something that reduces either the likelihood of employees being injured, the severity of any potential injuries, or both.  That alone is reason to innovate.  The bonus is that safety innovations almost always have other benefits such as improvements in productivity, employee morale, and the bottom line.

BWC is looking for such workplace innovations that have made it safer for Ohio employees to work and earn a living.  The application period for BWC’s 2017 Safety Innovation Awards is now open.  As I said when writing about the 2016 awards, we don’t consider whether the innovation is high-tech, low-tech, or no-tech.  What matters are risk reduction, cost savings, and potential application to other workplaces, industries, or operations.

Just as success breeds success, innovation breeds innovation.  By sharing and recognizing safety innovations we inspire others to create and share their own.  With that in mind, check out the past winners to see if any inspire you or help you to realize you have an innovation worthy of submitting.

In the five years we’ve been making these awards, this is what we’ve learned about the typical characteristics of an award-winning safety innovation:

1. The problem often is identified by the employees.  Management listens.

2. Management taps the creativity of employees and involves them in developing and implementing a customized solution.

3. Management consults with a safety, ergonomics, or industrial hygiene professional to better understand the issue and ensure the innovation meets safety standards without creating new hazards.

4. The solution eliminates the hazard or reduces exposure to the hazard while making the overall work process more efficient.

5. A process is in place to ensure proper use and maintenance of the innovation, such as training and an inspection procedure.

6. The concept or technology is transferrable to other situations.

7. Everyone in the organization is proud of their innovation.

If you are an Ohio employer—or know one– that has taken an innovative step to reduce risk of injury or illness, check out the award criteria and application.

Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2016.  Five finalists will receive cash awards and state-wide recognition at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo in Columbus March 8 to 10, 2017.

Innovation is one way Ohio continues to drive its injury rate down: fewer employees get injured, productivity increases, and workers’ compensation costs decrease.   It’s a win for employees.  It’s a win for employers.  It’s a win for Ohio!