Safety has risen to the top of the priority list in Oneida County.
At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Chair David Hintz said there have been two serious safety-related claims made in the past few years. A sheriff's deputy was injured on the job, as was a highway worker. Hintz says the deputy eventually returned to work, but the highway worker has not returned to work.
Hintz says those incidents resulted in the county paying more for Worker's Compensation...
"....it's something we have to do a better job on. Our Workman's Compensation rates go up dramatically when we have a major accident like these that are avoidable. We have to raise safety awareness and compliance with simple things. I don't know how many phone calls I've made to the Highway Commissioner and the crews aren't wearing safety glasses and I know others have done the same thing....."
Hintz says it's essential workers know safety protocols and buy into them. Human Resources Director Lisa Charbarneau is developing a safety handbook, using the county's insurance company manual as a basis. She says the message has to be clear...
"....we've got to have consistency and continuous training on these safety procedures to develop this culture of safety. It's something that needs to be on the forefront of everybody's mind as they're working each and every day...."
Charbarneau says because of the past injuries, Oneida county paid an additional $83,000 in worker's compensation premiums. Charbarneau says the departments will be asked to develop their own safety protocols. She says it will vary by department, as office positions won't have the same types of safety issues as a highway or solid waste worker might have as part of their daily duties. She says, however, that social workers have been injured during home visits.