There are thousands of public entities with even more public entity employees who have not been provided the support for a safe workplace that private industry has enjoyed for decades. However, none of these public entity employees is less worthy of returning home from work each day the same way each arrived in the morning. A public entity has many safety and "OSHA-type" exposures and issues that deserve attention, evaluation and most likely, improved controls.

Public entities vary in size and in the services offered to citizens. Most all forms of government have at least administrative responsibilities and roads/streets as part of the business of that entity. Larger entities may add law enforcement, fire and emergency services and a park district. That list can be expanded for even larger entities to include community centers with a variety of activities, senior centers, animal control units, sports arenas, boating docks and more. Each of these services requires the public entity to hire employees to work in these departments. There are some public entities that do not have employees, but these may be townships in rural areas or other similar governmental subdivisions.

Safety has taken a back seat in many public entities without the heavy enforcement that the construction industry "enjoys", for instance. In many public entities, safety may be the responsibility of the human resource department, whose main responsibilities are, amazingly enough, human resource issues. Some public entities are fortunate enough to have a full-time safety director or risk manager and other public entities may have someone on staff that has been involved in safety in a previous job position for another organization. Those public entities are a step ahead of the remaining group who often either do not have a safety director or have no one interested in doing this is a major part of the job. Outside consultants may prove valuable and cost-effective, but a background is still a necessity in choosing the right consultant for your operation. There is no way around it - there must be some basic comprehension of safety and OSHA for a public entity. A public entity with one employee needs to evaluate safety risks that exist in that entity and provide the proper controls and protection using safety for that employee. OSHA does not indicate a number of employees required before providing a safe workplace!

Some public entities have been reluctant to get involved in safety at all. It is "one more thing" that has to be done. Another typical response to safety is, "I will have to hire another person to get all of this stuff done." Depending on the size of the entity, this is not usually the case. What public entity managers often fail to see is that safety is one of the spokes in the wheel of "business".

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