Make Safety a Priority in Your Plant

WMA Works with Industry, OSHA to Raise Awareness

By Jessica Ferris

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 6,000 employees in this country die from workplace injuries each year, while another 50,000 die from illness-es caused by exposure to workplace hazards. In addition, 6 million workers suffer non-fatal workplace injuries at an annual cost to U.S. businesses of more than $125 billion.

Effective job safety and health policies and programs add value to the workplace and help reduce worker injuries and illnesses. But companies may find the idea of building or changing their safety culture daunting, and the status quo can be hard to change, especially if the work-place has become complacent about safety and health. Also, knowing where to begin can be cumbersome. Unfortunately, it often takes a serious accident or illness from hazards for things to change.

Getting to Work

We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The World Millwork Alliance (WMA) is dedicated to helping improve the millwork industry’s safety and health environment by providing tools and resources to companies that are establishing their own safety program or trying to improve their existing safety policies and procedures.

To this end, WMA has established a Safety Committee of member company safety officers dedicated to improving the millwork industry’s safety environment. The committee seeks to create awareness about key issues and encourage WMA members to use the opportunities and programs available to eliminate hazards, thus enhancing workplace safety and health practices. It has been tasked with identifying key safety and health issues pertaining to the industry, developing a working relationship with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and providing awareness of opportunities and programs available to members.

In April, WMA conducted a first-of-its-kind millwork industry safety survey. The survey was open to all industry professionals (members or not) to capture as much data as possible on the current safety and health climate to establish a benchmark for future trends in the industry. A summary report of the survey’s findings will be made available this summer.

Based in large part on what the survey results reveal, WMA plans to participate in a formal alliance with OSHA, and develop goals and objectives for a WMA Safety Program that is tailored to meet the needs of the millwork industry. The safety program will provide the tools and resources for improving worker safety and health. As a participant in OSHA’s Alliance Program, WMA will implement a program that emphasizes raising awareness of OSHA’s rulemaking and enforcement initiatives; outreach and communication; and training and education.

An Industry Advocate

On the advocacy side of the safety fence, this past year WMA has been participating on behalf of its small-business members in the Small Business Labor Safety roundtables, which focus on cur-rent regulatory actions by OSHA and provide a forum for discussion. Within the Small Business Administration (SBA) is the Office of Advocacy, which serves as an independent voice for small business within the federal government. It advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts and state policymakers. It hosts small-business roundtables, such as the Labor Safety roundtable, on various regulatory topics to receive input on which issues are of greatest importance, and to facilitate an open and frank discussion about small-business-related concerns.

In this day and age of regulation and compliance requirements, it is important to stay ahead of the curve and keep a positive attitude. Safety and health are everyone’s priority, and if we work together cooperatively, only good things can happen. WMA is committed to doing its part to help the millwork industry improve its safety culture by providing members with tools and resources through its alliance with OSHA and its advocacy for small business.

Jessica Ferris is the director of codes and standards for the World Millwork Alliance

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DWM Magazine

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