OSHA Strategic Partnership Program<< Back to Success Stories


Background:

Reducing occupational hazards remains a challenge for U.S. employers, especially for smaller companies with few resources. In response, Georgia Tech's Consultation Program, funded by OSHA, provides technical expertise and training to help Georgia companies create cleaner, safer environments for their workers. The program is free to companies with fewer than 250 workers. In May 2004, the program developed an OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP) with OSHA's Region IV, Atlanta (East and West) Area Offices to decrease injury/illness rates of local companies and increase the level of safety training for workers in Georgia.

Georgia Tech's Consultation Program serves a diverse clientele, ranging from food processors to construction companies to nursing homes. Companies can ask for help with a specific issue already known to be a problem or they can request a broader inspection. When consultants arrive on the scene, they focus on three key areas that were developed in conjunction with the goals of the Partnership:

  • Safety issues, such as fire protection, emergency response, electrical safety and machine guarding, fall protection and machine hazards;
  • Health hazards, which includes exposure to chemicals, noise and blood-borne pathogens; and
  • Ergonomic problems that can cause musculoskeletal disorders.

Consultants will also evaluate safety and health management systems (SHMS) that may already be in place and possibly help to improve them.

Success Impact:

Illnesses and Injuries Decrease

In 2005, Georgia Tech's consultants visited more than 350 companies and identified 3,838 serious hazards, saving employers about $3.8 million in potential penalties from OSHA. During the Partnership, the total number of injuries in the area dropped from 7.5 to 2 per 100 workers - with average cost per injury falling from $11,000 to $3,000. There have also been zero fatalities.

Targeting the Growing Hispanic Demographic

Demographic shifts have also introduced new challenges for employers in Georgia. The state's labor force has seen a significant increase in the number of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the construction industry. While many Hispanic workers may have worked in construction before, they are not always aware of OSHA health and safety standards, requiring a great deal of education on their employer's part. To help increase awareness, Georgia Tech's consultation staff has been translating many of its training materials into Spanish and offering free seminars in Spanish.

Partnership Objectives:

The Partnership has many objectives including to:

  • Decrease the injury/illness rates of the total Partnership by 3% annually.
  • Establish an industry standard checklist for use during work on energized circuits.
  • Increase the implementation of comprehensive safety and health management systems.
  • Decrease workers' compensation costs for participants.
  • Increase the level of safety training and its availability for workers.

Origin: Region IV, Atlanta (East and West) Area Offices

Partners: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Atlanta Electrical Contractors Association (AECA), Atlanta Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (AEJATC), Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI)

Partnership Signed: May 2004

Industry: Other (NAICS Code 238210, SIC Code 1731)

Employees: 1,402

Employers: 2

Source and Date: Danielle Gibbs, OSHA National Office via Safety Online / April 2008