Objectives Small industrial firms frequently lack occupational safety and health (OSH) expertise. In addition, development of effective, widely applicable OSH interventions for small businesses has proven to be a persistent challenge. The National Machine Guarding Program is an intervention currently underway to address these issues among small (3–150 employees) metal fabrication businesses.
Method A partnership was formed with workers’ compensation insurers to recruit businesses for an intervention designed to prevent machine-related injuries and improve safety programs such as lockout/tagout. Participants receive a baseline evaluation, two intervention visits, and a follow-up evaluation. Pooled results from baseline safety assessments will be presented.
Results 221 businesses from 29 U.S. states were enrolled. At baseline, the mean score for machine safety audit was 73.7%, however, only 67.5% of items concerning point of operation safeguards were present on average. For shop-wide safety programs and policies, mean audit score was 43.4%. Safety program/policy scores were significantly lower among smaller businesses, whereas machine safeguarding equipment scores were similar across all size strata.
Conclusions The National Machine Guarding Program represents a new intervention model for widespread outreach to small industrial firms. Baseline safety audit results show a need for improvement in shop-wide safety programs and in critical areas of machine safeguarding. Preliminary results indicate that this is an effective model for recruiting small metal fabrication businesses into a nationwide intervention. Effectiveness of intervention programs in improving these aspects of injury prevention will be evaluated to determine whether broader application is warranted.
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