Guest Column

MIOSHA celebrates 40 years

June 20, 2014
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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the MIOSHA Act. Gov. William Milliken signed the legislation that created the modern MIOSHA program on June 18, 1974, with the program becoming effective in 1975.

In 1977, the first year with recorded statistics, the MIOSHA-related worker death count was 115 workers. The overall injury rate in the state was 9.6, which means that nearly 10 out of every 100 workers were hurt on the job in any given workplace during the year. Last year, MIOSHA investigated 27 worker deaths and the injury/illness rate was at 4.0. This is progress and a significant step in the right direction.

Today, the MIOSHA program is dedicated to protecting the safety and health of Michigan’s working men and women and is ready to partner with any Michigan employer or organization to increase safety and health awareness by encouraging the use of all available resources, including MIOSHA outreach services, to provide a safe and healthy work environment.

This year MIOSHA launched a new five-year strategic plan. The process began by going to our industry members to ask them how MIOSHA can make a difference in improving workplace safety and health. MIOSHA has compiled a long list of strategies and emphasis areas for the next five years.

The new MIOSHA strategic plan includes a focus on industries where injuries and illnesses are higher than the state average; outreach to at-risk populations such as temporary workers, public sector workers, those in the agriculture industry and those exposed to possible air contaminants; and workers engaged in tree-trimming and tree-felling activities.

Another step MIOSHA takes in working with employers and employees is the multi-year project to enhance customer service and program effectiveness called “Connecting MIOSHA to Industry;” falling in line with LARA’s philosophy of being “customer driven and business minded.” The goal is to ensure that MIOSHA interventions are educational, informative and useful, whether conducted by consultation or enforcement staff.

Federal OSHA estimates that for every $1 invested in workplace safety and health efforts, employers see a $4 to $6 return. It not only keeps people safe on the job, but it also makes good business sense. The direct costs of workplace accidents in the United States are estimated at nearly $40 billion each year.

We can all honor the commitment made by those who worked to create Michigan’s program for workplace safety and health by continuing to make progress and by doing better — by going forward with resolve, diligence and a perseverance that says we will not stop, we will not look away, and we will not shy from the challenges we face in making a difference. We take this responsibility seriously and give it a place of high priority in our organization’s core values.

You have my ongoing commitment that at MIOSHA our diligence will remain strong both through our consultation and enforcement programs. We will work with and help any employer who seeks help. We will also remain firm and effective in our enforcement efforts. MIOSHA’s enforcement and consultation activities continue to focus on presence in the workplace and we talk about the need for safety and health diligence in 100 percent of our visits.

For more information on MIOSHA, visit the MIOSHA website at michigan.gov/MIOSHA or our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Martha Yoder is director of the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA).

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