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April 26, 2013
For Immediate Release: April 26, 2013
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 621-5009
Commissioner of Labor reminds businesses to take advantage of programs that protect workers
AUGUSTA—In 2012, 20 Maine workers died while at work. Thousands of others were injured.
“April 28 is Worker Memorial Day around the world. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by taking reasonable precautions and ensuring safe practices on-the-job,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We want every worker to arrive home safely at the end of every work day.”
“Events like the recent tragedy at the fertilizer factory in Texas are sobering reminders to both employers and workers to not take safety for granted. We remember all workers who have lost their lives and express our condolences to their families,” the Governor added.
Maine has a strong commitment to ensuring the safety of its workers. In 2012, Maine continued to lead the New England region in the number of businesses and public entities certified as safe facilities under the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).
“Worker Memorial Day is an important day for the families who have lost a loved one and for workers who have been injured at work. These individuals remind us that every person deserves to work in a safe place,” said Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “I am proud of Maine’s strong track record and leadership in workplace safety, but we can always do better. Our goal is to have no on-the-job fatalities every year.”
The Department has developed a number of initiatives to assist employers and employees in improving and maintaining worker safety. The Bureau of Labor Standards has created a new, searchable database of worker injuries using Tableau visualizations that provides a true benchmark in terms of injury numbers and associated costs. The visualization is available on the Department of Labor’s website, http://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_stats/workinjuries.html .
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor recognized Maine’s SafetyWorks! Safety Training Institute as the first-of-its-kind in the nation and a safety-training best practice at the annual consultation conference. This marks the second time that SafetyWorks! has received the On-Site Consultation Achievement Recognition (OSCAR) award. The award recognizes an On-Site Consultation Program for superior service that goes “above and beyond” routine consultations.
The Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) is a voluntary protection program that recognizes private-sector employers who have exemplary safety and health programs and have injury rates below the national average for their classification. Maine currently leads the region with 56 SHARP locations. Fewer than 2,000 worksites in the United States have earned SHARP certification.
In addition to SHARP, Maine has a sister program, the Safety & Health Award for Public Employers or SHAPE, that recognizes public-sector employers. Almost 50 employers have been recognized under the SHAPE program, including five entire municipalities, as well as individual fire departments, public works departments, schools and other town departments.
“Preventing injuries on the job not only protects Maine people, it saves Maine employers money that they can put into growing their businesses and hiring more workers,” said Commissioner Paquette.
Employers interested in learning more about the SHARP and SHAPE designation should contact SafetyWorks! at 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or www.safetyworksmaine.com . SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs.
SafetyWorks! is not OSHA and cannot issue fines or citations to private businesses. While SafetyWorks! helps businesses of any size, priority is given to small businesses. The program trains about 8,000 people and consults at nearly 1,000 worksites in Maine each year.
Events: Western Maine Central Labor Council will hold a Workers' Memorial Day Dinner from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the Franco-American Heritage Center, 46 Cedar Street, Lewiston. Pamela Taylor, Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards, will attend. Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette will speak at the Worker’s Memorial Day Breakfast, 7:30 to 9 a.m., Monday, April 29, at Maine Plumbers and Pipefitters United Association Local 716, 21 Gabriel Drive, Augusta.