Suterra prides itself on its outstanding attention to safety in the workplace. It’s one of the many ways Suterra can show that it values its employees.
In the United States, chemical production facilities like Suterra’s Bend, Oregon campus are highly desirable job creation engines for communities, offering specialized employment for almost 1.5 million Americans last year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are also among the safest and most regulated manufacturing environments in the world.
Even in an industry obsessed with safety, Suterra stands apart as a role model with extraordinary safety metrics and outcomes. One way this is achieved is through the facility itself, which is outfitted with virtually every state-of-the-art safety technology available.
Smart technology continuously monitors and filters the area for hazardous gases. The facility's smoke and gas detector, VESDA, is one of the most technologically advanced and sensitive systems ever produced. Additionally, the H-VAC system in the building has smart ducts and completely replaces the air in the building 9 times per hour. The walls are even equipped with cabled panels that could swing open in the case of a pressure incident, quickly releasing any high pressure.
In addition to Suterra’s state-of-the-art facility, the company ensures industry-leading safety by giving employees far more extensive training than they would receive at any other chemical plant. "It's not a typical manufacturing job," says Huw Clarke, Chemical Operations Senior Manager. Rather than simply learning one repetitive task, new employees are cross-trained on everything that goes on the chemical plant.
Suterra invests heavily in these employees; workers in manufacturing have to demonstrate competency in tasks three times before they are sent to do these tasks alone. Employees often receive training for almost a year before they're signed off on mastery of everything in the plant.
Because of this, Clarke specifically looks for workers that demonstrate exceptional attention to detail and the ability to think ahead. It's no coincidence that many employees in the Suterra manufacturing plant have military backgrounds.
Like the military, Suterra understands the link between safety and quality control. According to Cory Stengel, a health consultant for Oregon OSHA, “Quality control and safety are hand in hand at Suterra. Having one excel means the other one is going to excel. They hire people who understand that from day one."
As part of its commitment to quality control, Suterra completed a rigorous five-year safety program through Oregon’s OSHA Consulting Services: the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). With SHARP, Suterra refined their already robust safety measures and collected data to ensure that existing safety measures were working as intended.
The recognition that comes with being a SHARP company also serves as a valuable tool to recruit new employees. "As our business grows, and we compete for new talent, we hope candidates see our achievements under the SHARP and realize that we are truly committed to the health and safety of our team," Khapoya said. "The candidates for whom that safety commitment is important are precisely the ones we want – and the ones we will need to make Suterra even better."