By Keith Bullock, Safety Consultant, BWC Division of Safety and Hygiene, OSHA On-site Consultation Program
As a workplace safety professional, I see firsthand why establishing a safety program may seem daunting to many small businesses. These employers tell me that tight budgets and time constraints are just a few concerns they face.
However, there are effective, low cost and highly flexible options available. The core elements of such a program can be implemented at a basic level suitable for the smallest business, as well as at a more advanced, structured level that may be needed in a larger, more complex organization.
OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which recognizes small business employers that operate exemplary injury and illness prevention programs, demonstrates these programs can and do work for small businesses. For example, BWC analyzed the policies of 16 SHARP employers from 1999 to 2010. The study compared the employers’ experience prior to and after achieving entry into the SHARP program. The preliminary results of the study show:
- the average number of claims for these companies decreased by 52%,
- the average claim cost decreased by 80%
- the average lost time per claim decreased by 87%
- claims (per $1 million dollars of payroll) decreased by 88%
Beavercreek’s United Church Homes/Trinity Community was part of the study. The nursing home was the first SHARP health-care facility in Ohio. BWC safety and industrial hygiene consultants worked with Trinity’s management and staff for more than two years to implement changes in safety policies and programs, and help them reach their goal of becoming SHARP certified.
Changes included a “no-lift” policy to minimize manual resident lifting tasks. A safety team was also created to regularly review programs and policies, and update staff and residents on safety issues. Members of the Trinity safety team are pictured below.
Looking back from 2004 to 2017, Trinity Community continues to reduce its overall workers’ compensation claims (and therefore costs). See chart below.
It is important to note, SHARP participation does not mean a company’s safety program is perfect, savings will vary slightly year to year. But, OSHA On-Site Consultants are committed to assist you analyze, track and manage risk.
A separate internal OSHA study of nine SHARP firms, ranging in size from 15 – 160 employees, found that firms achieved the following because of their programs:
- A reduction in the number of injuries and illnesses.
- Improved compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Improved business and cost savings including improved productivity, reduced workers’ compensation premiums, reduced administrative and human resource burden associated with filing injury and illness reports, managing workers’ compensation cases and retraining new employees.
- Improved workplace environment with greater collective responsibility for workplace health and safety.
- Improved reputation and image in the community including relationships and cooperation between employers and OSHA, between employers and employees, and among employers in the business community.
SHARP Program participation starts with a free consultation service from consultants like myself. We explain to employers the potential hazards at their worksites, and how they can improve their occupational injury and illness prevention programs, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. Most consultations take place on-site, though limited services away from the worksite are available.
Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, this program is separate from the OSHA inspection effort and no citations are issued or penalties proposed. It’s confidential, too. We don’t report your name, your firm’s name, or any information you provide about your workplace to the OSHA inspection staff. We also don’t report any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions we may uncover.
Your only obligation will be to correct serious job safety and health hazards. That’s a commitment that would benefit all Ohio employers by protecting their workers from injury and lowering their costs.
If have questions or would like to schedule a visit, please call me at 614-865-9750.