The shop door sign reads “eye protective goggles needed beyond this point.” Open the door, and one is flooded by the sound of machinery as employees bustle about.

Punch-Lok, a division of Parrish Manufacturing Group, has been awarded the Safety Health Achievement Recognition Program Award. Fewer than 15 companies in Oklahoma are SHARP-certified, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Punch-Lok is a high-pressure hose manufacturer, creating items used in the oil field, by fire departments and other companies. The plant produces quick connect/disconnect couplings and equipment for high-pressure items, stop lights and signs, among other things.

SHARP recognizes small business employers who used Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s On-site Consultation Program services. The program provides consultation services to address hazards and improve workplace safety and health.

SHARP-certified businesses are granted an exemption from OSHA programmed inspections for up to two years along with other benefits like renewal.

General Manager Barry Robinson said Punch-Lok worked two years to receive the certification.

Employees designed and installed cages around equipment and moving parts, installed safety features and other safety items to provide a more safe workplace.

Robinson said one safety feature is a light curtain. The curtain prevents an employee from sticking a hand into fast-moving machinery. Robinson said when an employee’s hand passes the light curtain barrier, the machine suddenly stops, preventing the removal of any appendage.

“It may be more expensive, but it’s simple, saves time and ensures safety,” he said.

To receive the award, Punch-Lok had to make safety changes but also needed a below national average safety rating.

“Everybody pulled together and worked as a team,” said Deb Hankins, PMG environmental health and safety manager. “Every time we went to Barry (Robinson) with what needed to be done, he was on board.”

Hankins said the certification shows Robinson and Punch-Lok went above and beyond for health and safety.

Oklahoma Department of Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston presented the company with a commendation for its hard work.

“We are trying to get the word out and this takes a leap of faith,” she said. “Giving the SHARP award is one of the coolest things in my position. This is an example of how it should be — how government works with private business. This is a great example of how government can partner with the private sector for a common goal.”

Houston said many companies continue to search for cost savings after a recent fine hike by OSHA.

In August, penalties for noncompliance to OSHA rules increased by 78 percent. Top penalties for serious violations increased from $7,000 to $12,471. Penalties for willful or repeated violations increased from $70,000 to $124,709.

 Houston said the increased fines impacted businesses.

“There’s no way to avoid it except to invest on the front end,” she said.

The initial investments mean saving money down the road and less injuries, Hankins said.

Punch-Lok employees 25 people, Robinson said.

Robinson said if changes save even one fingernail, the cages and improvements were worth the cost.

“The main thing was to provide a safer environment,” Robinson said. “We were fairly safe before but now we’re much safer. Everybody worked together on getting this done — from the president to plant employees.”

Punch-Lok, of Chicago, was purchased, and operations of ProGrip Coupling Co., of Gardenia, Calif., were moved to Enid in 2005.

Parrish Manufacturing acquired ProGrip Coupling Co. and today makes quick connect/disconnect couplings and replacement parts. Among the brands the company manufacture are PT Coupling, Punch-Lok, ProGrip, Safety Bump, Maxi-Dry and Sta-Lok II.

Story provided by:  Enid News & Eagle
Written by:  Emily Summars