Filed Under:Markets, Workers Compensation

Free Safety Consultation Program Helps Businesses Reduce Injuries

As a senior risk control consultant with PMA Insurance in Tampa, Greg Crocetti says he and his clients have the same goal: No injuries. Fewer injuries and illnesses mean fewer claims and fewer losses, and ultimately lower workers' compensation premiums.

However, maintaining a safe workplace requires adherence to a complicated and complex mix of state and federal rules and regulations. To help his clients navigate the often-daunting federal environment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Crocetti regularly steers them to the University of South Florida's SafetyFlorida program, an on-site safety and health consultation service operated by the university's College of Public Health.

The program is Florida's official OSHA safety and health onsite consultation service for small businesses. Created by the OSHA Act of 1970, onsite consultation provides free and confidential advice to business owners throughout the U.S., giving priority to those in high-hazard industries such as construction, manufacturing and healthcare. OSHA cited 5,403 Florida businesses last year with violations, amounting to $5.5 million in fines. More than 75 percent of the violations were classified as serious. The agency wants those numbers to decline.

There is risk when business owners take a reactive stance to workplace safety. "The 'hope theory' -- thinking and hoping an accident will never happen -- is a fallacy," Vespit said. "Accidents, even fatalities, happen every day."

OSHA's Perspective

Of particular interest to many businesses is the safety plan writing offering. Written workplace safety plans are important documents, but they can be cumbersome and difficult to put together. To help in the process, USF SafetyFlorida created SafetyWriter, an online program that lets employers easily develop a customized safety plan specific to their industry.

SafetyWriter begins with a basic safety program. Employers can narrow their options and enter company-specific information to mold the plan to fit their business model. Furthermore, employers can select from a list of topics such as Lockout/Tagout, Confined Space and Personal Protective Equipment to include in their plan to meet specific OSHA requirements. The result is a document that can be saved and updated over time.

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