Western New York Federal Safety and Health Council has done it again.
For the 11th consecutive year, the Buffalo-based volunteer group
won OSHA accolades for its efforts to reduce injuries and illnesses
in federal workplaces-and for extending its expertise to local
private-sector companies. Last October, OSHA Administrator John
L. Henshaw presented the council with a Superior Performance Award
for its accomplishments during Fiscal Year 2001. Henshaw said the
group represents "the best in service, commitment, and performance."
Training is a big focus of the Western New York Federal Safety and
Health Council. Above, Mark Schaefer from M.P. Services
Group, a private-sector council member, conducts a class
on automated external defibrillators.
The council is among the most active of the Federal Safety and Health
Councils throughout the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin
Islands, and Japan. With representatives of 20 federal agencies
that employ more than 15,000 workers in Western New York, the chapter
provides dynamic safety and health programs that members can apply
in their workplaces. An additional 41 state and local governments,
unions, and private-sector companies participate in the chapter
as associate council members.
With the support of member agencies and organizations and OSHA's
Buffalo Area Office and New York Regional Office, the council conducts
an ambitious training and outreach program. Recent training sessions
focused on topics of interest to both federal and non-federal members:
automated external defibrillators, domestic violence workplace law,
and construction and home safety.
In addition, the council sponsored a session on humor in the workplace
and stress management-ironically, just one day after the Sept.
11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The group had scheduled a locally renowned
humor and creativity consultant to put together a presentation for
September 12 focused on infusing humor into work and personal environments
as well as applying creativity to work environments. The afternoon
of the attacks, several board members struggled to decide what to
do about the next day's meeting. After much deliberation,
they agreed that if ever there was a time when a little humor was
needed, this was it. The 33 attendees began the session with a moment
of silence for the victims of the attacks.
The following council session focused on the very serious and timely
issue of weapons of mass destruction domestic preparedness. Response
to the session was so strong that the council had to cut off the
number of participants at 65 so they would fit in the meeting room.
Similarly, a recent meeting on back safety attracted 60 people-more
than a 600 percent increase over the eight people who attended one
of the council's first meetings, on ergonomics, after the
council was chartered in 1985 by then-Secretary of Labor William
Other favorite topics at the council's meetings over the years
have included fire safety; asbestos awareness; carpal tunnel syndrome;
legal responsibilities of the supervisor and safety officer; boating
safety; electrical safety; slips, trips and falls; and emergency
Keith Hall, council chair and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee,
said the biggest reason for the council's success and growth
is that "We listen to our members and key into the interests
Keith Hall, right, chairman of the Western New York Federal Safety
and Health Council, accepts a Superior Performance Award
from OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw for the council's
strong outreach and education programs.
In addition to training, the council provides members information about safety
and health resources and encourages members to take advantage of
them. Each session begins with a brief overview of safety and health
issues, presented by a representative of OSHA's Buffalo Area
Office, and all members are encouraged to ask for help if they have
safety and health questions or needs.
"We feel there is a variety of safety and health programs
out there as well as a vast knowledge of safety and health, and
we try vehemently to share this education with our members,"
Hall said. JSHQ
Sidell is a program analyst in OSHA's Buffalo Area Office
and serves as secretary of the Western New York Federal Safety and