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Safety, the foundation of every successful business

Gary-Dewey-e1389802857768Successful business owners have long known effective safety management systems must be woven into the fabric of an organization, becoming part of the culture and part of the way that people do their jobs. Safety management should be an integrated system that involves everyone in the company, starting with a solid commitment from upper management. How does a small business with little time to develop and no funds create its own safety culture?

The Southern Idaho Manufacturers Safety and Health Association was established in 2013 for that primary purpose. Workforce safety poses different challenges and sets of procedures and processes, but there is common ground that can help companies at any level.

The association brings together companies across all industrial spectrums throughout the Magic Valley to create, implement and maintain safe and healthy working environments, and to eliminate injuries and fatalities. More than 50 business owners and safety managers in food processing, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and retail meet monthly at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. Through the association, safety and health professionals discuss how to stay compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws and employee health regulations.

The occupational safety and health discussions extend far beyond obvious areas such as construction, manufacturing and warehouse work. The association has selected the following safety and health topics for 2014:

Ergonomic lifting

The Center for Physical Rehabilitation will discuss proper lifting techniques, identify hazards related to ergonomic design versus worker behavior and show how to become familiar with ergonomic risk-assessment tools for lifting. It’s a critical issue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 41 percent of musculoskeletal disorder cases in 2012 were related to lower back pain, with a median of seven days off work.

New DOT laws

Sue Gee-Barney, founder of Cedar Springs Associates, will present on new Department of Transportation laws for 2014 in February. This is a must-attend for employers who operate trucks due to the implementation of Compliance Safety Accountability from the DOT. In addition, there are new requirements for medical examiners who perform DOT physicals that may affect where your employees get their physical exams.

The Twin Falls Safety and Business Fest offers more than 45 free classes in March that cover valued safety, health and business topics. Here are some examples:

Industrial occupational health: This is especially important because it refers to the identification and control of the risks arising from physical, chemical and other workplace hazards in order to establish and maintain a safe and healthy working environment.

Impaired driving: Employers with personnel who drive should attend the impaired driving presentation. Can you identify from actions and body language if your employee is impaired from drugs or alcohol? What are your options?

Americans with Disabilities and Family Medical Leave acts: These are relevant to occupational safety and health because human resource and employment opportunities must accommodate these absences or disabilities.

Ergonomic process: This has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders in industries as diverse as construction, food processing, office jobs, health care, beverage delivery and warehousing. The meeting will allow members to discuss the best practices.

Trained safety supervisor class: This class for managers, first-line supervisors and safety specialists will cover how the certification process works, benefits for employers and owners, and benefits for employees.

OSHA consultation: We’ll discuss best safety practices in industry through the OSHA Consultation. The Southern Idaho Manufacturers Safety and Health Association recognizes there are no corporate secrets when it comes to safety.

OSHA injury/illness record keeping: Employers with more than 10 employees whose establishments are not classified as partially exempt must record work-related injuries and illnesses. This class helps employers stay compliant.

In summary, safety is everyone’s business. Accidents are more expensive than people realize because of the hidden costs. It’s expensive to train and compensate a replacement worker, repair damaged property, investigate an accident and implement corrective action, and to maintain insurance coverage. Check your local area for safety meetings like the association’s, and get involved.

Gary Dewey is the industry training coordinator with the College of Southern Idaho. For more information, contact him at gdewey@csi.edu. Registration for classes opens in February at safetyfest.csi.edu/.

About Gary Dewey