Imagine, thousands of employees, and a list of departments that range from social services including services for adults, services for children, services for the homeless and the elderly, to park & recreation to the sheriff's office and the tax assessment and collectors, the health department and the medical examiners office. Add to that the building maintenance and fleet maintenance functions, and all the mostly administrative functions like finance, human resources, internal audit, etc. Large departments like social services and the sheriff's office each have more than 1,100 employees. Safety concerns for large counties cover everything from hazard communication to personal protective equipment, and heavy equipment operation. Large county governments like mine have a large fleet of vehicles that include cars, pickups, vans, buses, large trucks and trailers, as well as front-end loaders, tractors, scrapers and other heavy equipment.

From administrative to medical, from environmental to solid waste disposal, large county governments have many safety concerns. You might think it takes a large, well-staffed safety organization to provide safety consulting, inspection and training for all departments. In fact, one person can take on such a large organization and, with some limitations, develop a safety culture.

This presentation will address the plans and the actions that are needed to develop comprehensive safety programs in spite of the lack of safety staff. This program is about how one professional safety person can systematically develop a safety culture in a large public sector organization and earn the support of senior managers in the process.

Where do you start? You need a comprehensive plan for safety. The plan should include development of written programs such as: hazard communications; lockout/tagout; confined space and permit required confined spaces; bloodborne pathogens; personal protective equipment; ladder safety; walking & working surfaces; machine guarding; power tools; eye washes and showers; flammable storage; welding, cutting & brazing; means of egress; emergency action plans including evacuation and training; compressed air & gas use and storage; safety teams or committees; new employee orientation; vehicle safety policy; and last, but not least, a managed return to work policy.

In order to be consistent, all of the topics listed above should be addressed in written policies. However, I don't recommend re-inventing the wheel. If you are just going to make an OSHA regulation your policy, I recommend you do it by reference. Don't try to write a policy to explain each OSHA regulation. A safety policy should be organization specific and should spell out who does what. It should spell out procedures to comply with the OSHA regulations.

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