The Vassar Manufacturing may be known throughout the country for its full line of farm implements, but Jacque Vassar is dedicated to making the company’s name synonymous with workplace safety.
For the past two years on the first Friday of the month employees at the Perkins facility have halted production and focused their efforts on something Jacque describes as more important than making machinery – employee safety.
“At the end of the day, we’re responsible for something so much greater than manufacturing equipment, we’re responsible for making sure that every employee is able to go home to their family,” she said. “That doesn’t happen without a focused effort on safety.”
Jacque and her father Jack Vassar have partnered with the Business and Industry Services division of Meridian Technology Center to create a year-long safety training plan that covers everything from accident cause and prevention to electrical safety. Each first Friday the company’s 25 plus employees gather to focus on that month’s designated safety component.
“Topics are posted in advance of the meeting so people know what we’re going to cover,” Jacque explained. “In addition to attending the training, we also encourage employees to bring ideas to the table that we might need to cover in future meetings. Creating a designated time for that type of input has allowed us to see what we’re doing right and what we might need to change.”
Kurt Mendel, Safety Trainer Coordinator at Meridian, said that several industries across the Meridian district have successfully implemented programs similar to that of Vassar Manufacturing.
“We’re really seeing a shift in culture when it comes to safety,” he said. “Companies recognize that safety isn’t something that just happens. It has to be intentional, and it has to be important to everyone at all levels in the organization. You can’t just say, ‘be safe’ and think that you’re going to have a safe work environment.”
When Vassar Manufacturing made the commitment to creating a safety culture, Jacque met with Mendel and together they designed a plan that would allow them to meet the company’s production goals while keeping employees out of harm’s way.
“When we work with companies to develop a safety plan we understand that it’s their business, and they know best about their company’s needs for training,” Mendel said, describing the initial meetings he has with companies. “We aren’t pushy about it. We just try to provide business owners with input and training options. How much or how little a company implements is entirely up to them.”
A few of the recent safety improvements Vassar Manufacturing has focused on include a light study for the installation of new lighting, an assessment for the installation of better exhaust fans, newly painted walls to increase light reflection and visibility, and adjusting plant layout to better accommodate forklift paths.
“We’ve found that sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest difference,” Jacque said, describing the company’s efforts to keep safety at the forefront of employees’ minds.
Partnerships that Make a Difference
As a workforce resource, Meridian provides customized business and industry training designed through needs assessment, curriculum design and a variety of training delivery methods. Training is conducted at times and places that meet individual business needs and the needs of staff. Meridian’s Business and Industry Services group customizes the specifics of the training to meet a company’s needs and objectives. From the outcomes to the location, each detail can be planned to a company’s specifications.
The Business and Industry Services division at Meridian Technology Center provides comprehensive services to assist businesses and organizations. In the areas of computer training, health care, industrial training, management and staff development, and safety, Meridian serves as a strategic partner to assist organizations like the Vassar Manufacturing in maximizing potential and achieving their goals. To learn more about how Meridian can customize a training plan for any business visit meridiantech.edu/business or call (405) 377-3333.