What is SPP?
 
SPP (Safety Partnership Program) is a fresh, innovative effort in Kentucky's Occupational Safety and Health Program. It is an outgrowth of federal OSHA's Regional Pilot Project, the Comprehensive Assistance for Safety and Health (CASH) program. It is designed to offer long-term assistance to the smaller employer who has a history of high injury/illness rates and high workers' compensation costs.
This long-term assistance is being provided by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet's Division of Education and Training. The division was created to assist employers and employees with their safety and health needs. The Division of Education and Training and the Division of Compliance function independently of one another without sharing information relative to their activities.
 
Workers' compensation costs can have a devastating effect on a company's profit margin. Most small employers, especially those in high-hazard industries, feel the impact every day with workplace injuries, but many are at a loss for a permanent solution to resolving injuries in the workplace. They may feel that they can't afford the time, effort and cost to implement and manage an effective, comprehensive safety and health program in their facility. Budgets are tight; therefore, production must remain a top priority, because profit is what business is all about.
 
The Kentucky OSH Program recognizes and understands these issues. Through this SPP program we want to help improve production, increase morale and significantly reduce your workers' compensation costs. This is an attainable goal for the smaller employer who is willing to work "smarter and harder."
 
In reviewing its long history of attempting to reduce injuries and illnesses in the workplace, the OSH program has realized that elimination of injuries and illnesses is not something that the government can "effectively" force an employer to do; therefore, it must be a priority for the employer. SPP will show the employer how to develop a proactive approach to safety and health through a safety and health program management system. Potentially, there is a tremendous payback for the employer who embraces this plan, through higher productivity, lower costs, higher morale and better working relationships with employees.
 
This program is a long-term relationship between the employer and the Division of Education and Training. It will require a minimum three-year commitment in order to participate. Education and Training will provide a team of experienced staff to evaluate, train and assist you and your employees until you have the necessary tools to provide an ongoing safe and healthy work environment.
 
Please consider this program for your company. While it is not for everyone, those employers who are serious about reducing the costs associated with injuries and illnesses in their workplace are encouraged to participate. This program can help move your company ahead of the competition. And best of all, the resources provided by the Division of Education and Training are FREE OF CHARGE.
 
What are the benefits to the Employer/Employee?

Participation in the Safety Partnership Program has several positive outgrowths. The obvious result is a dramatically reduced injury/illness experience, which lowers the cost of doing business through lower workers' compensation costs, reduced costs for replacement of employees (with inexperienced temporaries) and reduced loss of productivity as a result of lost days from work.
 
It has been documented and proven that when a proactive safety and health program is implemented, employee morale is raised and employees begin to feel more valued in their jobs. When employees feel good about their work environment and their employer, production typically increases. When a proactive Safety and Health Program is implemented, channels of communication are opened up between the employer and the employee, and they begin to see each other in a different light. This has happened in virtually every case in which the employers have truly committed to improving the safety and health of their employees.
 
Who Is Eligible?
 
Currently, employers should fall within the following criteria for entrance into this program:
 
• Employers should be in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sector 22 or sectors 31 through 81 and the employer should have a high-injury incidence rate.
• Number of employees in the establishment should range from 100-250 employees.
• Employers insurance Experience Modifier should be 1.0 or higher.
• Management, as well as employees, must be willing to fully participate in this endeavor.
Exceptions for eligibility requirements will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
 
Why Should I Participate?
 
If your company has a high-injury incidence rate, you probably pay a significant sum of money for workers' compensation. In addition, many hidden costs associated with injuries and illnesses significantly increase the total cost. These hidden costs include:
 
• Slowing of production due to lost time.
• Lower productivity from replacement workers.
• Damage to facility, equipment, raw materials and finished products.
• Clerical and administrative costs of claims processing.
• Investigative costs.
The situation does not have to remain this way. There is a solution, and the Division of Education and Training is ready to help.
 
Companies that have fully embraced and implemented a proactive safety and health program management system have reaped the benefits tenfold.
 
One such example of the many success stories is the Alumax-Aluminum Division in Magnolia, Ark. When the company decided to prioritize its safety and health effort in 1991 and apply for the Voluntary Protection Program, its workers' compensation costs were $713,766. In 1995, its workers' compensation costs were $66,522, a 90-percent reduction.
Similarly, the Nicolet Paper Co. in DePere, Wis. reduced its costs from $59,111 in 1992 to $18,930 in 1994, a 70-percent reduction.
 
In addition to these significant economic benefits, employers have reported side stream advantages such as decreased absenteeism, higher morale among employees, a feeling of ownership among employees and an enhanced relationship between labor and management.
 
Vanity Fair Mills in Milton, Fla. realized a 26-percent decrease in absenteeism from 1991 to 1994. Winpak Portion Packaging in Chicago, Ill. experienced a drop in absenteeism from 6.4 percent in 1993, to 1.86 percent in 1995 (more than a 70-percent decrease).
 
To compete in today's global economy, companies must achieve better cost savings, enhanced productivity and higher quality production. Implementation of an effective safety and health program management system is one crucial element in becoming or remaining highly competitive in today's market.
 
What should we expect?
 
Participation in the Safety Partnership Program is a long-term relationship with the Division of Education and Training. It will be an ongoing effort for a minimum of three years and is designed to assist employers in becoming proactive in the safety and health arena by providing them with the proper tools, education and knowledge to address current and future safety and health problems as they occur.
 
The Division of Education and Training may utilize a "team" of safety and health consultants to provide services to your establishment as needed. Your team will consist of experienced safety and health professionals with a wide array of fields of expertise specially selected to meet needs identified in your facility.
 
This team will address current hazards in your facility and assist you in abatement methods, review your current record-keeping efforts and offer recommendations, assist you in developing a proactive safety and health program, assist in setting up safety committees and developing solid action plans, assist in training staff and provide other assistance as necessary.
 
What is the Labor Cabinet's obligation?
 
SPP participants will receive priority treatment by the Division of Education and Training.
 
The division will provide, as needed, expert consultative staff to help resolve safety and health issues in your establishment.
 
The division will provide ongoing assistance in developing a proactive safety and health management system, including safety committees and long-term planning.
 
The division will provide assistance in developing a safety and health program tailored to meet your specific needs and abilities.
 
So, what's next?
 
Once participation requirements have been fulfilled for SPP, the next step could be participation in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) or the Voluntary Protection Partnership (VPP) of Kentucky. SHARP is a recognition program for those smaller, high-hazard employers who are seeking recognition and enforcement exemptions for their safety and health accomplishments. The VPP emphasizes the importance of worksite safety and health management systems and recognizes exemplary performance. VPP sites are the "best of the best" in safety and health and must undergo rigorous scrutiny to qualify for the program. Numerous benefits are derived from participation in these programs. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Division of Education and Training.
 
For more information about the Safety Partnership Program, call John Lippert, SPP program coordinator at (502) 564-4101 or e-mail john.lippert@ky.gov.