ELKHART — The Indiana Department of Labor recognized Atlas Chem Milling’s facility as a safe workplace Wednesday, Feb. 20.
It’s the second Atlas facility in Elkhart, and only the second workplace in Elkhart County, to be certified under the state’s INSHARP program.
“We now officially have two sites in Elkhart, Indiana. Both of them are Atlas sites,” said Michelle Ellison of the state labor department.
According to the labor department, “the Indiana Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program(INSHARP) provides recognition, rewards and ongoing support to small Hoosier employers that operate exemplary safety and health management systems. Certification in INSHARP is an achievement of status that will single employers out among business peers as a model worksite for occupational safety and health.”
Talking to the Atlas employees gathered for a celebration meal, Ellison told Atlas Chem Milling employees that as a group they earned the elite certification. The company’s illness and injury rate is below the industry average, “It’s 40 percent below the industry average,” she said. “The program recognizes small employers ... who really have a passion for safety and achieve it.”
The certification process is a long one. When the Atlas Die facility on Middlebury Street received its certification last August, Ken Smott, the company president, said it took two years of effort and that the chem milling plant on Lusher Avenue was also working on the process.
Kevin Deckard, who manages both Atlas plants in Elkhart, detailed the building-wide effort put in by all 46 Atlas Chem Milling employees. “In 2010 we started to make a transition from a traditional safety committee to getting everyone involved,” he said.
“Today’s a proud day for us because of the accomplishments we’ve achieved through this.” In 2012 employees put in more than 540 hours in safety efforts alone, Deckard said.
Mayor Dick Moore congratulated the company on the achievement. “Atlas is an Elkhart success story. We are so proud of you,” said Moore, who noted that he knew S. Ray Miller, the man who founded Atlas 61 years ago.
Smott told the employees that across all their plants nationwide they have 6,659 safe days in a row, the equivalent of 18 ½ years. “My thanks to each and every one of you for your dedication to a safe work environment,” he said.