Safety Update: Time To Go Hands-On

safety-hand-cloudLast year, the CSD Pool suffered its first on-the-job fatality in years. It was followed by two more workplace deaths by the year’s end. Any death is tragic, and the fact that these were potentially preventable presses the point that safety is of critical importance because of the human and financial costs if proper safeguards aren’t taken.

Every year, OSHA collects incident rate data from private and public entities to help establish baselines and averages. This data allows virtually every employer in the United States to weigh themselves against their peers and determine if they need to refocus on safety, or if they can continue performing at their current level.

When compared against OSHA’s averages over the last 5 years, entity for entity, the CSD Pool does not measure well against the national averages. In virtually every category, Pool members fare far worse than OSHA’s averages for both local government and private industry. In some cases, Pool members experience on-the-job injuries at a rate of two-to-three times greater than the national average.

As special districts, Pool members are not beholden to OSHA regulations or other safety mandates. There are no threats of fines, penalties or criminal charges if a district doesn’t meet the same baselines required of private entities. This does not, however, absolve any district of its moral obligation to ensure that its entire workforce goes home to their families safely every day. Additionally, many of the categories in which our members operate are shared by other local government agencies throughout the United States. Those entities also do not fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction, yet their data is also better.

Having a high incident rate means that your costs for Workers’ Compensation coverage is higher than it would be with a lower rate. That, however, is merely secondary. The most important thing to take away from this data is that it is time to refocus your district on safety.

There are many things you can do to help get a grip on safety at your district. The Pool offers numerous safety programs and there are numerous outside companies that perform a variety of assessments and upgrades that may help yield results.

The biggest and most important changes must come from your district’s leadership. Safety must always be a priority, even if it’s not convenient or if it slows down operations. Accidents happen when employees let their guard down, and the results can be disastrous. We urge you and your district to do everything in your power to ensure that employees go home safely at the end of each day.

We are working to put together additional services, programs and incentives to help districts, their management, and their safety committees come together collectively to improve working conditions for all Pool member employees. Keep your eye on this publication for more information to follow. But, there is no reason to delay focusing your district’s board, management, and staff on following your existing safety protocols and best practices.

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