WASHINGTON — The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) announced it now is accepting applications for this year’s Dairy Industry Safety Recognition Awards.

The annual awards honor dairy processing facilities and trucking operations for outstanding worker safety performance and management.

For the first time in 2022, the 19th year for the awards, the IDFA will place equal weight to applicants’ essays and statistical data, citing the importance of emphasizing leading indicators, such as the number of inspections conducted, the number of safety and health hazards identified, decreased time for hazard abatement, increased employee training, safety suggestions implemented, and job hazard analyses completed.

“The Dairy Industry Safety Recognition Awards spotlight dairy businesses that have gone above and beyond in proactive workplace safety programs to prevent illness and injuries,” said Danielle Quist, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and counsel. “We look forward to recognizing the innovative safety management practices that dairy companies have put in place or progressed over the past year.”

As part of the process for the awards, dairy processing and trucking operations will be judged on occupational injury and illness performance rates, which are recorded in companies’ OSHA 300A forms. The written essay that accompanies each application will explain components of a company’s safety and health programs, as well as how the company makes use of leading indicators as an essential driver of worker safety.

“Workplace safety is not just a priority for dairy companies, it is at the heart of each business and essential to productivity,” Quist said. “These safety awards are just one way for companies to demonstrate their planning and successful strategies for maintaining a culture of safety throughout the company. Safety achievements can be a strong indicator of success and through this awards process, we hope to encourage all dairy facilities to continuously approach safety as a priority and engage all levels of employees and managers in the process.”

Per the IDFA, a company must implement an “effective and innovative” health and safety program and have illness and injury rates that are below industry averages (via Bureau of Labor Statistics) in order to be eligible for an award. Companies also must be an IDFA member to enter.

Rules, regulations and applications for the 2022 awards are available on the IDFA’s website. The entries are due by May 13.