Labor Secretary Says Economy Could Hurt Workplace Safety

Oct 4, 2011

Frankfort, KY – These tight economic times could tempt some companies to cut back on workplace safety. Kentucky Labor Secretary Mark Brown says that may mean spending less such things as protective equipment and training sessions. Brown understands business concerns but insists there's no substitute for safety.

"When you've got a group of workers sitting in a classroom learning safety and health, you're losing production out on the floor so they're looking to save money wherever they can but they should never look at slacking on safety, in my opinion," said Brown.

Brown says the cost of an injury or death in the workplace far outweighs savings from not having a properly trained workforce.

Dismal economic projections in Kentucky could also lead to budget cutbacks at state agencies, including the Labor Cabinet. If there are fewer dollars for workplace safety training programs, Secretary Brown says he may look to Eastern Kentucky University for help.

"This is an opportunity with us working together, If I lose a few people at my, at the Labor Cabinet, I've got this group here at Eastern to back me up, in helping us get the word out and get the education and training out," said Brown.

Brown also stresses safety awareness in the workplace rather than confrontation over government regulations. Sec. Brown says that philosophy is behind training sessions held with businesses around the Commonwealth.

"We go into facilities and do partnership programs with them where we identify the problems they have in their facilities and they correct them. There's no compliance involved there. We come in, identify, give them an opportunity to correct and continue that process for a number of years," said Brown.

Brown was in Richmond this week to sign an agreement between the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and Eastern Kentucky's Occupational and Health Administration Training Center. The partnership calls for more cooperation between the agencies to promote health and safety in the workplace. The OSHA Center at EKU is the only such program in an eight-state region.