Editorial


 

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PMA-OSHA Alliance Making a Difference

By: Edwin G. Foulke Jr.

Monday, October 01, 2007
 

While the metalforming industry has its share of occupational hazards, employers and employees need not accept these hazards as merely the cost of doing business. With training and education, hazards can be identified and addressed, and in recent years OSHA has worked with the metalforming industry to improve its safety record.

When OSHA signed an alliance agreement with the Precision Metalforming Association in November 2005, we pledged to use our collective expertise to help foster a culture of injury and illness prevention, while sharing best practices and technical knowledge. In particular, we’re addressing ergonomics hazards and press-safety issues such as machine guarding and lockout/tagout.

Compliance with safety and health standards and regulations is not only a legal requirement, it makes good business sense. Employers that invest in safe and healthy workplace environments improve their bottom lines by lowering workers’ compensation premiums, increasing productivity and reducing employee turnover.

U.S. employers incur an annual estimated cost of $1300 per employee from occupational injuries and illnesses. These costs—as well as the devastating impact that serious injuries or illnesses can have on employees and their families—can be avoided by implementing exemplary safety and health management systems.

When the top executive insists on excellence—not only in quality and productivity, but also in the company’s safety and health record—the shift in the organization’s attitude can be remarkable. Executive leadership in workplace safety and health means setting the example for desired changes, instituting and promoting safety education and training sessions, and appearing alongside the safety manager to help present the message. Leaders promote optimism, reward employee initiative, and make safety and health the first topic of discussion at staff and employee meetings.

OSHA’s alliance with PMA represents one part of a balanced approach to ensuring safe and healthful workplaces. This approach includes developing standards and guidance; providing education and training; conducting strong, fair and effective enforcement; and implementing cooperative programs and providing compliance assistance to employers—especially small business owners.

A good place to start when seeking OSHA’s help is our Office of Small Business Assistance. Also available is an onsite consultation program, a free service that helps employers identify hazards at their worksites, and offers ways to correct them. And our safety and health topics page, Making the Business Case for Workplace Safety and Health, shows how employers realize significant economic benefits while also fulfilling their safety and health responsibilities. All of these links can be found at the OSHA and PMA alliance website, www.pma.org/about/osha/default.htm. The site also offers links to useful information developed through other OSHA alliances.

We also are working with PMA to update its Safety First video, to reflect compliance with OSHA standards, and OSHA encourages industry members to include this video in any new-employee orientation programs. And we’re helping PMA revise its Safety Guidelines Checklist for workplace safety officers.

Lastly, I want to thank PMA for its participation in the annual North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week, to help raise awareness of the vital importance of protecting employees on the job. This spring PMA supported 2007 NAOSH Week by distributing more than 500 posters to members, along with a letter from PMA President William E. Gaskin.

PMA has shown admirable leadership in promoting workplace safety and health among its membership. Through our alliance, we are adding to the association’s excellent track record with new Internet tools, and OSHA is working with PMA to share our expertise with the metalforming industry.

 


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