Augusta, ME – Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette recently announced that the Maine Department of Labor is opposed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) changes related to the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program award (SHARP) after reviewing the rules and their potential effect on Maine workers and businesses.
Governor Paul R. LePage supported the decision to oppose these changes. “Maine is committed to being business friendly and creating opportunity for our workers,” stated the Governor. “The SHARP program does both by keeping workers safe and lowering associated costs. We want to attract businesses and new workers to our state. Telling businesses you’re in one day and then you’re out is the wrong way to show our appreciation for their presence in our state and their commitment to worker safety.”
Commissioner Paquette provided background on the department’s position. “This program is only open to worksites that employ a certain number of employees. Often, what is considered a larger business in Maine is rather small in other states,” she stated. “We want our businesses that choose to locate a business in Maine to know that we are committed to helping them become a safer place to work.”
Paquette noted, “Maine has the highest number of SHARP certified worksites in New England; our program is strong and this change would undercut the great strides we have made in lowering worker injury rates. The federal government is looking to make money off these smaller worksites and, as a result, discouraging workplace safety.”
Fewer than 2,000 worksites in the United States have earned SHARP certification. Maine currently has 68 SHARP worksites. Current Maine SHARP worksites that would be eliminated from participating in their program include Jotul in Gorham—the company’s only North American location, Lucas Tree’s maintenance facility, One-Steel’s locations in Bangor and Augusta, and the Hinckley Company in Trenton.
To qualify for SHARP, companies must undergo a comprehensive audit, correct all hazards identified during an onsite health and safety consultation, demonstrate that effective safety and health programs are in place and maintain injury rates below the industry average for the last year of completed data. After awarding the SHARP designation, OSHA removes the worksite from its general scheduled inspection list for two years. If the company continues to meet all conditions of the program, the SHARP designation may be renewed for another two years.
Employers interested in learning more about the SHARP designation should contact SafetyWorks! at 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or http://www.safetyworksmaine.com. SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs.
SafetyWorks! is not OSHA and cannot issue fines or citations to private businesses. While SafetyWorks! helps businesses of any size, priority is given to small businesses. The program trains about 8,000 people and consults at nearly 1,000 worksites in Maine each year.
Source: ME DOL