Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry has a Workplace Safety Consultation unit that offers a number of consultation services to help employers prevent accidents and diseases, through several employer assisted programs.
Upon request, companies can obtain free on-site safety and health consultation assistance. Employers can use the service to find out about potential hazards, improve safety management systems, and apply for safety grants to reduce safety hazards. A visit entails an opening conference, a walk-through of the worksite and the closing conference. Use of the service can be beneficial because no citations or penalties are issued from the consultation. However, the employer must be committed to correcting any violations within a timely manner or they risk being reported to Minnesota OSHA for further investigation. A commitment to making repairs and changes must be made in advance of the consultation.
“MNSHARP” – Minnesota Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program
The Minnesota Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (“MNSHARP”) began in 1996. It is a consultation type program for small, high hazard employers to help them make safety and health improvements. It is a way for employers to develop safety and health programs beyond the basic requirements under OSHA. Some benefits of participating in this program are the use of the Department of Labor and Industry Workplace Safety Consultation unit, public recognition for the employer and an exemption from OSHA scheduled compliance inspection of lists.
For an employer to be eligible they must not have more than 250 employees at one worksite and not more than 500 employees at all worksites. If a company has less than 100 employees they are given priority. The program usually involves a one year action plan where the employer must correct identified hazards and create a safety and health program. All employees must participate.
The Minnesota STAR (“MNSTAR”) program recognizes companies where managers and employees work together to develop safety and health management systems. The program is comprehensive and involves management leadership and employee involvement, allocation of resources to address safety issues, systems that identify and control workplace hazards, and a plan for employee safety training and education.
It is a self-assessment by the employer using the federal Voluntary Protection Program, which the program is based off of and involves a long application process
Labor-Management Safety and Health Committees
Minnesota Statute § 182.676 states that employers with at least 25 employees must have a safety and health committee for the workplace. If an employer requests, the Workplace Safety Consultation unit can provide assistance in developing a safety committee or to help an existing safety committee.
A safety grant can be provided to an employer for developing a protocol to reduce risk of injury and illness to their employees. The grants can be for up to $10,000. The following criteria must be met for an employer to qualify:
- the employer must have Workers’ Compensation insurance,
- the employer must come under the jurisdiction of Minnesota OSHA,
- qualified safety professional must have conducted an on-site inspection and there must be a written report with recommendations based on the inspection,
- the project must be consistent with the recommendations of the safety inspection and must reduce the risk of injury or disease to employees,
- the employer must have the knowledge and experience to complete the projects, and must be committed to its implementation,
- the employer must also be able to match the grant money awarded and all estimated project costs must be covered,
- the project must be supported by all public entities involved and comply with federal, state, and local regulations where applicable.
Workplace Violence Reduction
All employers must ensure that their employees are not subject to job related violence. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry can work with employers and develop programs through the Workplace Violence Prevention Resource Center to emphasize prevention of workplace violence. The Workplace Violence Prevention Resource Center can provide consultation, outreach, and training.