Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Safety Is the Bottom Line at E.J. Ajax & Sons: This Small, Minnesota-Based Manufacturing Company Helps Employees Live the American Dream

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Safety Is the Bottom Line at E.J. Ajax & Sons: This Small, Minnesota-Based Manufacturing Company Helps Employees Live the American Dream

Article excerpt

E.J. Ajax & Sons might be the smallest company to secure an America's Safest award this year, but its management and employees are big on safety. The manufacturing and metal stamping company, based in Fridley, Minn., employs a staff of 50 and boasts 17 years without a lost-time incident and 5 years without an OSHA-reportable incident.

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"Worker's safety is one of our company's highest ethical responsibilities," says Vice President Erick Ajax. "Our employees trust that their personal safety is what we value above everything else."

In a small company that can sometimes feel more like family than work, ensuring everyone's safety is a priority. E.J. Ajax provides every new employee with safety gear, including work boots with full metatarsal protection, safety glasses, ear protection and elbow-length Kevlar gauntlets for workers who handle sharp metal pieces. Workers also have the authority to shut down any machine or operation at any time if they question its safety. The bottom line is to keep employees safe.

E.J. Ajax closely involves employees in the safety process. On average, workers make more than 60 safety improvement suggestions every year, and the majority of these suggestions are implemented. And employees reap the benefits of their own safe work habits by receiving half of the company's savings from low workers' compensation rates as annual bonuses.

The company's commitment to safety has earned E.J. Ajax the Minnesota Safety Council Governor's Award of Honor 14 times between 1992 and 2007, as well as being honored as the nation's safest metal stamping company in 1999. E.J. Ajax also was the first Minnesota metal stamping company to achieve OSHA SHARP designation, which is awarded to small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system.

Reducing Risk

When E.J. Ajax received the largest order in company history last summer, the job presented a possible threat to worker safety by requiring the production of large parts weighing up to 100 pounds and more. While several workers could have handled each part manually, Ajax explains, the possibility of injury was too big a risk. …

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