A formal alliance created by the Idaho Transportation Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is designed to improve conditions in the workplace and reduce the number of construction-related accidents.
ITD is the first Idaho agency and one of just several state transportation departments nationwide to enter into an educational and training alliance with OSHA. The alliance was signed July 7 at ITD Headquarters in Boise by Jerrold R. Hockett, area director for the Boise OSHA office and ITD Director Dave Ekern.
“When OSHA was created 35 years ago, the emphasis was on enforcement of workplace regulations,” Hockett explained. “Several years ago we realized the need to create partnerships and begin cooperative efforts to improve workplace health and safety through training.
“Most notable about this agreement is its focus on partnership and collaboration. The relationship it fosters will lead to improved safety for ITD employees and construction workers,” Ekern said. “Joining this partnership sends an important message that we don’t treat ourselves differently – that we don’t operate by different standards than the contractors and construction industry we work with.”
Creation of the alliance is intended to:
Training will provide ITD employees with “information, guidance and access to training resources that will help them protect employees’ health and safety, particularly in reducing and preventing exposure to construction and environmental hazards and addressing work zone hazards.
By legislative mandate, ITD and other state agencies are not covered by federal OSHA regulations. Instead, they are governed by standards of the Division of Building and Industrial Safety, which is under the auspices of the Industrial Commission.
However, it is important that ITD employees be aware of the OSHA regulations anytime they are in a construction zone or on a worksite, explains employee safety manager Cheryl Rost.
“Anytime a state employee is on a project, he or she also must comply with OSHA regulations. Although the state would not be cited if an employee fails to comply with OSHA regulations, the contractor could be cited.
“The alliance fosters trusting relationships and promotes education related to worker safety and health regulations.”
According to the three-year agreement, ITD and OSHA will work collaboratively to:
ITD and OSHA will create an implementation team to develop an action plan, determine working procedures and identify the roles and responsibilities of participants. The team will meet at least three times annually to track and share information on activities and results.
Photo caption: ITD Director Dave Ekern, left, and Jerrold R. Hockett, director of OSHA's Boise area office, sign a three-year alliance to improve construction and workplace safety through training and education.