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Region IV's Ambassador Program Reaches Out to Small Businesses

OSHA's Region IV Office established the Ambassador Program in October 2005 to reach out to small employers with little or no previous contact with OSHA and that generally do not have a good understanding of their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

To implement the program, the Region IV Compliance Assistance Specialists (CASs) conduct outreach in one or two small towns in their jurisdiction per month. The CASs will often begin their outreach by visiting small industrial parks and major employers in a town. The CASs generally do not contact employers before an initial visit. During these visits, the CASs take 10 to 15 minutes to provide an overview of OSHA's services and resources, distribute outreach materials, and answer safety and health questions.

The CASs may also contact the mayor's office and the local Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, Jaycees, and Chamber of Commerce to promote OSHA's compliance assistance resources and identify additional small businesses for future outreach efforts. Since the start of the Ambassador Program, the Region IV CASs have reached over 500 employers and have received requests to provide additional workplace safety and health information to groups of local employers.

The following are examples of successful outreach efforts conducted by Region IV CASs under the Ambassador Program:

  • Virginia Ames, OSHA's CAS in the Birmingham, Alabama Area Office, conducted an Ambassador Program visit to Sunshine Mills, an animal feed manufacturing company in Red Bay, Alabama. As a result of her visit with this company, the CAS received a request to provide recordkeeping training and an "OSHA Questions and Answers" session for local small business representatives. Approximately 15 employers from the manufactured housing, animal feed, warehousing and metal fabrication industries attended the event.
  • Courtney Bohannon, OSHA's CAS in the Jackson, Mississippi Area Office, was making Ambassador Program visits in Tupelo, Mississippi, when he met the Director of Workforce Development for Tupelo's Community Development Foundation (CDF). The CDF is a nonprofit organization composed of civic, business, and professional leaders representing the Tupelo and Lee County region of Mississippi. The organization's mission is to strengthen the region through economic and community development projects, with an emphasis on creating new jobs. At the CDF's invitation, Mr. Bohannon conducted a safety and health seminar in February 2006 for approximately 40 local employers in the retail, manufacturing, and construction industries. Mr. Bohannon reported that he was well received by the employers, only a few of whom had any previous contact with OSHA.
  • Bill Bice, OSHA's CAS in the Mobile, Alabama Area Office, made a visit under the Ambassador Program to a small automotive parts supply company in Hope Hull, Alabama. He provided the employer with an overview of OSHA's compliance assistance services and also reviewed OSHA's Alabama Automotive Manufacturing Group Strategic Partnership, which addresses workplace hazards in the automotive industry such as unguarded machinery and hazardous chemicals. As a result of this visit, the employer joined the Strategic Partnership and has expressed interest in participating in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs.
  • Joseph Roesler, OSHA's CAS in the Jacksonville, Florida Area Office, has made several Ambassador Program visits with small businesses in northern Florida. During these visits, he discusses OSHA's compliance assistance resources, including the Onsite Consultation Program. As a result of one of these visits, an employer scheduled a visit with Florida's Onsite Consultation Program.

For more information, please contact Tom Bosley, OSHA's Region IV CAS Coordinator.

As of September 2006.

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