The City of Tulsa and the Oklahoma Department of Labor will work together to make municipal employees safer on the job.
Tulsa is the first city in the state to join the department's Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Consultations program. The public sector program is modeled after one for private companies the labor department said has saved businesses from $52 million in potential fines.
"Rather than emphasizing playing ‘gotcha’ regulation with the public sector, we want to have partnerships and emphasize best practices, training, innovative ways to approach safety in the public sector," said Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston.
The state’s public workplaces already see injuries and illnesses at a lower rate than the rest of the U.S.: 3.8 per 100 public sector workers compared to 5.0 per 100.
"We’ve seen a 47 percent decrease in our public sector injuries and illnesses over the course of the past decade or so, but look — any injury or illness, any one is too high. And so, we’re committed to continuing to make improvements and to drive that number down," said Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston.
Through data and labor department monitoring, the consultation program will lead to specific training and education for city workers. Mayor G.T. Bynum said the city has made significant safety improvements over the past several years.
"But we recognize that not all wisdom and good ideas ends at the doors to city hall and that there are people that we can work with who can help us take it to the next level," Bynum said.