|Updated: 10/26/2012 3:51 pm
||Published: 10/26/2012 3:49 pm
Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced the City of Tulsa is working to improve its safety culture to reduce workplace injuries and lower worker compensation costs.
The mayor, representatives from Covanta Energy, Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello and City of Tulsa Department Directors, kicked off the City’s Safety Culture Transformation Project, which will create a premier safety program for City employees.
Mayor Bartlett said, “Our safety and injury issues were first identified by the KPMG efficiency study in 2010. The report showed our worker’s compensation costs totaled $27,432,499 million and our incident rates were twice as much as those in similar-sized cities like Oklahoma City and Wichita. We are working toward reducing these costs and are taking the safety and health of our employees seriously.”
Bartlett added, “Our department directors will help us get there by developing and sustaining a successful program of safety excellence for employees. The next step will be gathering three focus groups of ‘champions’ who will help us develop specific programs to convey our overall safety messages to employees.”
Covanta Energy, a renewable energy facility will be guiding the City of Tulsa through the process. Covanta is a part of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which recognizes outstanding efforts by employers and employees to achieve exemplary occupational safety and health policies, procedures and practices.
Matthew Newman, Director of Business Management at Covanta said, “I encourage the City of Tulsa to start their day with a focus on safety and then hard-wire it into employees’ daily lives.” Beth Hurley, Vice President of Safety and Health added, “We found that employee accidents at Covanta went down to less than one percent a year, due to employees being mentored on their safety decisions. This has helped us maintain a strong safety culture, which is one of Covanta’s core values. ”
The City of Tulsa’s program will center on employees to save lives, enhance quality of life, and create an enhanced working environment of pride, empowerment, productivity and efficiency. City of Tulsa Department Directors will assist in the establishment of a vision and in developing the project where they will monitor risks and act accordingly to ensure the sustainability and success of the program.
Bartlett emphasized the one thing the City is going to implement this upcoming budget cycle will be having every department pay for its own workers comp claims. “At the end of the day, we have to have employees go home as safe as when they came here. Many of us are doing a good job, but we all need to do it.”