The Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) group at Georgia Tech met with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and key Georgia legislators at the Capitol to highlight efforts in workplace safety and other issues related to health at places of employment.
The Feb. 18 breakfast “meet and greet” included state Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta), chairman of the public safety committee; Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Athens), chairman of its economic development committee, and state Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), chairman of the Georgia House Small Business Development Committee, among others.
A program of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, SHES provides broad range of occupational safety and health training, consulting services, and academic education to organizations in Georgia and across the Southeast.
“These meetings and talks with our state leaders was a great opportunity to speak with key legislators and committee chairs about the importance of promoting health and safety policies and programs that protect employees in their workplaces in our state,” said Hilarie S. Warren, SHES’ senior research scientist and industrial hygienist.
Warren, is president of the Georgia Local Section of American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), which facilitated the meetings at the Gold Dome.
For example, Jenny Houlroyd, SHES’ occupational health group manager, updated legislators on her work with the Sustainable Workforce Alliance. That project is focused on giving the tools and training and access to training resources to help protect the health and safety of youth workers and educators in career/technical education programs throughout Georgia.
The Sustainable Workforce Alliance aims to highlight and address exposure risks of youth workers to prevalent hazards in the construction and general industries. The initiative also provides an understanding of worker’s rights and employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Warren said they also highlighted Atlanta serving as host to the national organization’s three-day conference that starts June 1, 2020.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Safety, Health, and Environment Services (SHES) group; and Georgia Department of Public Health’s Division of Health Protection have formed a two-year alliance to raise awareness about lead exposure.
OSHA and its partners will provide employers, industry leaders, and the public with information, guidance, and access to training resources on preventing worker exposure to lead hazards in general and construction industries. The alliance will also emphasize how best to communicate this information to hard-to-reach workers.
Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, usually over a period of months or years. Even exposure to small amounts of lead over time can cause serious health problems and children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning.
According to OSHA estimates, approximately 804,000 workers in general industry and an additional 838,000 workers in construction are potentially exposed to lead. Workers are exposed to lead as a result of the production, use, maintenance, recycling, and disposal of lead material and products. Lead exposure occurs in most industry sectors including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, remediation and even recreation.
“Employers who implement appropriate safety controls and procedures can help minimize employee exposure to lead,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator. “The Department of Labor hopes that this collaborative effort will be a valuable tool in our mission to keep employees safe and healthy.”
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA fosters collaborative relationships with groups committed to worker safety and health, such as trade and professional organizations, unions, consulates, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Alliance partners help OSHA reach targeted audiences – such as employers and workers in high-hazard industries – and give them better access to workplace safety and health tools and information.
The SHES group, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, offers a broad range of safety and health services to organizations in Georgia and the Southeast through its Region IV OSHA Training Institute Education Center and OSHA 21D Consultation Program.
“These alliances are critically important and effective in pooling our expertise to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities,” said Paul A. Schlumper, SHES’ manager for the Georgia On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program.
Typically, such alliances are comprised of groups working together to develop compliance assistance tools/resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. At the end of 2017, the SHES group was an active participant in five alliances. SHES also was active in seven partnerships last year, and added three more in 2018. In a partnership, OSHA enters into an extended, voluntary, cooperative relationship with groups of employers, employees, and employee representatives to encourage, assist, and recognize their efforts to eliminate serious hazards and achieve a high level of worker safety and health.
“Our role as a member of an alliance or partnership can vary but may include conducting site inspections, conducting monitoring for air contaminants or noise, attending alliance/partnership meetings, performing training, and development of safety and health resources,” Schlumper said.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
About Safety, Health, and Environmental Services:
The Safety, Health, and Environmental Services group (SHES), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, promotes excellence in the fields of occupational safety, health, and environmental compliance via the provision of world-class occupational safety and health and relevant training to the business community as a whole in support of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s training mission. SHES also provides on-site consultation services and environmental compliance assistance to small businesses in Georgia; participation in related community outreach; and support in various OSHA-related youth initiatives. For more information, please visit oshainfo.gatech.edu.