MO DOL Works With Businesses To Reduce Workplace Deaths

Jefferson City, MO (CompNewsNetwork) - Larry Rebman, Director of the Missouri Labor Department, visited today with management and employees at Bee Seen Signs in Jefferson City to discuss programs designed to enhance workplace safety in Missouri and to recognize businesses that strive to prevent workplace deaths and injuries.  Rebman's visit comes on the heels of a month in which Missouri experienced a higher than ordinary number of deaths in the workplace.

"In these tough economic times companies are to cutting back on employees and relying on the remaining workforce to be more productive.  A side effect of doing more with less is that employees sometimes shortcut safety measures resulting in an increase in workplace injuries and even death,” says Department Director Larry Rebman. “We are fortunate there are employers like Bee Seen Signs that are dedicated to making workplace safety a priority.”

Bee Seen Signs, a full service sign company, was one of the first businesses to become a member of the Missouri Department of Labor's elite safety program, Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in July 1992. Bee Seen Sign began working with the Department's safety consultants in June 1990 and has since provided a top-notch facility for both its employees and clients.

"We wanted to retain quality people, and a safe work environment is part of what it takes to do that,” says owner Junior Dietzel. “This program helped us reduce our workers' compensation premiums and general liability insurance. That savings goes a long way especially for a small business like ours.”

The manufacturing industry is considered a high-risk industry when it comes to workplace safety. It is typical for workers to suffer eye injuries, cuts from sharp edges, contusions from objects falling, back injuries, and a lot of slips, trips and falls if the employer does not take the steps necessary to protect the employees from injuries. In 2009, more than 12,517 injuries and 15 deaths were reported to the Department from the manufacturing industry.

The Department saw an increase in overall workplace deaths for the month of September. On average, nine workplace deaths are reported to the Department per month. For September, 15 Missourians lost their lives on the job. The types of industries and work related to the recent deaths range from transportation and public utilities, to retail trade, and construction.

"The state's economic wellbeing is closely tied with safe and healthy workplaces,” says Larry Rebman. “More people on the job mean that more tax revenue is generated for our state. We rely on businesses to protect this priceless commodity and urge employers to take part in our free safety programs--they save lives.” 

The Department offers free onsite safety and health consultations to high hazard businesses with 250 employees or less. The Department's professional consultants identify safety hazards and help employers come up with inexpensive solutions. Participation can lower insurance premiums, cut out-of-pocket expenses, and reduce workplace injuries.  Businesses that implement safety programs over a period of time can become SHARP members and be exempt from OSHA-targeted inspections for up to three years. To be eligible for SHARP, a company must implement a safety plan and the worksite's lost workday injury and illness rate must be below the national average for its industry.

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