Get an insider’s view of an Ohio safety council
By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager
As many in the safety and health industry in Ohio know, BWC sponsors 82 safety councils across the state to provide a forum for accident prevention, workers’ compensation, and health and wellness information in local communities.
There are many unique characteristics to each safety council – and no two are alike.
I’d like to tell you a little more about the Darke County Safety Council (DCSC), sponsored by the Darke County Chamber of Commerce in Greenville, Ohio.
Interestingly, but not surprising given the county’s location on the central western border with Indiana, it is the second-largest agricultural county in Ohio. Naturally, this leads this group to focus its attention on agri-business as well as traditional employer safety training needs.
The DCSC has a diverse membership of 67 businesses that include international manufacturing, agri-business, health care, trucking, financial institutions, school districts, public employers, insurance companies, consulting companies, construction, landscaping, EMS, and employment agencies. Such a variety of member companies participating can sometimes make program selection challenging.
The council holds meetings at noon on the fourth Thursday of each month in the Brick Room at the Brethren Retirement Community. The most popular and well-attended meeting last year was “Employee Use of Marijuana” presented by Attorney Amy C. Mitchell. The meeting was held last October, preceding the November vote on Ballot Issue 3-Legalization of Marijuana in Ohio.
The DCSC credits its success to its committee chair running a timely meeting and the entire committee’s assistance in meeting-day responsibilities. Members of the steering committee intentionally do not sit together at meetings. They sit with different members to gain insight on their safety issues and offer resources or referrals to BWC. The DCSC always invites the media and the safety council is frequently front-page news!
Safety council leadership and members also value the support of their BWC safety representative who provides a BWC ‘update’ at each meeting and maintains a running knowledge of hot topics which may be appropriate for future meetings. Because BWC is a large state agency, the DCSC also appreciates the direct connection to an employee to assist with ‘navigating’ the system.
At meetings, employers learn about ongoing discount programs like BWC’s Safety Intervention Grant. Employers have publicly acknowledged their appreciation for receiving the Safety Grant information through the safety council as reflected in the comments of David Dunaway, owner of Ramco Electric Motors, who said “Through membership in the Darke County Safety Council we became aware of a Safety Intervention Grant through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Ramco received a $15,300 grant as a direct result of this opportunity. We value our membership in the Darke County Safety Council!”
Participation in the DCSC creates opportunities for area employers to learn techniques for increasing safety in their workplace, better manage their workers’ compensation program, network with other area employers, and inform them how to access useful, money-saving workers’ compensation and risk-management information.
According to Sharon Deschambeau, President of the DCSC, the safety council program equips her organization with the ability to provide resources to chamber and community businesses that might not otherwise be available. The Chamber is consistently focused on engaging current safety council members and growing their safety council.
For more information about the Darke County Safety Council, visit their website.