Workplace safety focus of Summit County business event at Tallmadge's Steere Enterprises

'A Billion Back' safety grant program expansion increasing money available to safety-minded businesses

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Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer visited Steere Enterprises Dec. 4 to announce the availability of grants to area businesses to protect their workers and lower their workers' compensation costs by increasing safety in their workplaces. The visit is part of increased efforts to educate employers and workers about the importance of workplace safety and the expansion of the Safety Intervention Grant Program as part of the Billion Back program. Steere experienced a reduction in injuries, and an increase in productivity, after receiving a safety grant that enabled the purchase of new equipment.

"We're here today to highlight how investments in safety can reduce workplace injuries, and not only benefit employees, but also positively impact a company's bottom line," said Buehrer. "Companies like Steere Enterprises that have been the beneficiary of safety grants set a great example for other employers to follow. I encourage other local businesses to take advantage of BWC's expanded grants program and other safety resources to help prevent injuries and reduce their costs."

BWC's Safety Intervention Grant Program assists Ohio employers in reducing illnesses and injuries and to create a partnership with them to establish best practices for accident and injury prevention. The total amount of available money was recently tripled to $15 million as part of the bureau's Billion Back plan, which also included $1 billion in rebates and steps to modernize BWC's billing processes. In addition, recent changes mean companies who've received grants, or were denied purchasing certain equipment may now be eligible to reapply.

Steere Enterprises, located at 285 Commerce St., is an international plastics supplier that produces a variety of products, including blow molding and its patented Dual Process™ overmolding technology. The company serves a number of industries, including automotive. A 2007 Safety Intervention Grant allowed the company to purchase three deflash presses to automate the deflashing of a variety of parts. The presses eliminated the need for employees to use a razor knife and hammer to manually tear the parts by hand. The equipment nearly eliminated the chance of razor cuts, back strains, carpel tunnel, tendonitis and strains due to forceful repetition required during the manual process. In addition to the reduction injuries, the company reports an increase in productivity enabled by the new equipment.

Ohio private and public employers are eligible for safety intervention grants, which include a three-to-one matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers' safety interventions and establish best practices.

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