OHS from the Quality Manager’s Perspective

Specific Mechanical Systems employs 75 workers in the manufacture of craft brewing and distilling systems and other stainless steel fabricated vessels for industry leaders around the globe. Starting in 2011, Specific’s business expanded to two shifts. An increase in minor worker injuries resulted from the jump in new employees to meet the rising business activity, from five in 2011 to 22 in 2013. Most injuries were caused by slips and trips or contact with machinery or equipment.

The human and financial costs arising from higher claims volume became a concern for Specific’s management team. In 2014, Specific became a member of the Alliance’s Safety Program Support (SPS), providing access to a professional advisor three days per month. In 2016, the Quality Manager, Sean Mitchell became responsible for the company’s health and safety program and began to work closely with Rosa Diaz, an Alliance SPS Coordinator.

Sean views health and safety and quality management as complementary. He can react instantly if he observes an activity which impacts either worker safety or the manufacturing process.

Putting these roles together was a conscious management decision. They wanted health and safety to be seen as having a strong, positive role in the production of quality fabricated vessels.

Sitting on the eight person management team and reporting to the General Manager allows Sean to demonstrate how improved solutions for either a health and safety or a production issue will have a positive impact on the other.

The biggest challenge for Sean is balancing competing priorities. “Good time management and analytical skills are critical,” Sean believes. “It’s a struggle; corners can’t be cut in either area.”