MIOSHA Launches Initiative to help Employers during Tough Economic Times; Protecting Worker Safety & Health can Help Your Business Survive in Tough Economic Times

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

May 7, 2009 - The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is launching an extensive awareness campaign, "Protecting Workers in Tough Economic Times," on how a comprehensive safety and health management system can help employers protect their workers and their bottom line. The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG).

As part of this initiative, the MIOSHA program is offering penalty reductions to companies who are compliant at the end of a MIOSHA inspection, as well as other incentives to encourage companies to develop safety and health management systems that protect their workers.

"Businesses today are struggling to survive in the most precarious economic conditions we have seen in our lifetime," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "When facing the challenging times of today, now is not the time to cut corners. As I've said many times before, the costs of reacting to workplace injuries and illnesses far exceed the costs of preventing them from happening in the first place."

MIOSHA Incentives to Work Safe 
The MIOSHA Program recognizes the difficulties that employers and employees are facing and will do all that we can to help address workplace safety and health issues. MIOSHA is offering the following significant changes to help employers comply with MIOSHA requirements: 

  • Penalty Reduction - an additional 10 percent penalty reduction may be applied for prompt abatement. 
  • Penalty Payment Plan - an extended payment plan will allow employers the opportunity to pay the citation penalty in installments rather than one lump sum. 
  • Focused Inspections - inspections in most targeted general industry workplaces will focus on the primary hazards of the industry, instead of the traditional "wall-to-wall" approach. 
  • OTS Violations Not Cited - Other-than-Serious (OTS) violations relating to focused hazards will not be cited if the violation is abated in the presence of the inspector. 
  • Prehearing Options - three alternative options to prehearings conducted in Lansing will be available. - Inspection Deferrals - employers working with the Consultation Education & Training (CET) Division may receive a deferral from a MIOSHA enforcement routine inspection. 
  • Good Faith Credits - new "Good Faith Credits" for penalty reductions have been implemented. 
  • MTI Training Scholarships -$18,000 in safety and health training scholarships will be available for MIOSHA Training Institute (MTI) courses in FY 2010. 
  • Increase Publication Limits - the CET Division will increase the limits on free copies of popular printed material, like permits, stickers, and posters.
  • Access to Standards - All MIOSHA standards are now searchable and downloadable from our website, and our new "A-Z Index" makes locating standards easier. 
  • Free Video Loan Library - the CET Video Library is transitioning from VHS to DVDs and has 76 DVD titles on a wide range of safety and health topics available on a free-loan basis.

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees. The MIOSH Act requires employers to provide "a workplace free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to the employees." The purpose of MIOSHA safety and health rules is to set minimum requirements and provide guidelines for identifying and correcting the hazards contributing to injuries and fatalities.

The MIOSHA program is required to monitor the safety and health conditions in workplaces covered by the MIOSH Act. Our inspection system focuses on Michigan workplaces with the highest injury and illness rates. We want to target worksites where we can do the most good. In addition, consultation activities are focused where the greatest potential for improvement exists.

Safety Adds Value to the Workplace
MIOSHA urges proactive attention to safety and health diligence in all workplaces. Fatal accidents can be prevented when employers develop and implement safety and health management systems. These systems include not only following MIOSHA rules, but emphasize the need for ongoing strong leadership support, employee involvement, worksite monitoring, and training.

Workplace safety just makes good business sense. The direct costs of workplace accidents were estimated at $48.6 billion in 2006 (Liberty Mutual 2008 Workplace Safety Index). Liberty Mutual estimates that businesses pay an additional $127 billion to $212 billion of indirect costs, bringing the total financial impact of serious workplace incidents to between $170 and $255 billion annually.

"The MIOSHA program is dedicated to protecting the safety and health of Michigan's working men and women," said Kalinowski. "We are ready to partner with any Michigan employer or organization to increase safety and health awareness and encourage the use of all available resources, including MIOSHA outreach services, to provide a safe and healthy work environment."

Federal OSHA estimates that for every $1 invested in workplace safety, employers see a $4 to $6 return. The MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division has consultants available to provide employers with assistance in creating safety and health systems, developing accident prevention programs, and implementing long-term safety and health solutions.

Companies can call the CET Division at 517-322-1809 for free statewide safety and health assistance. For more information on MIOSHA standards, enforcement regulations and outreach services, companies and employees can also call our toll-free number at 800-866-4674. MIOSHA developed the attached fact sheet for employers that details the initiative's program incentives and lists the safety and health benefits.

MIOSHA's goal is to ensure that effective tools and training are available to employers to help prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. A variety of information is available on our website at www.michigan.gov/miosha, including standards, outreach services, publications, training calendar, alliances and partnerships, initiatives, and fact sheets. In addition, the MIOSHA website highlights Michigan workplaces that have been recognized for their outstanding efforts to protect workers.

Read more releases from the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth 

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