Magazine article Public Management

Stillwater's Safety Culture Program Is a Money Saver, Too

Magazine article Public Management

Stillwater's Safety Culture Program Is a Money Saver, Too

Article excerpt

Between January 1 and April 30, 2009, the city of Stillwater, Oklahoma, lowered its workers' compensation claims by 34 percent compared with the same period in 2008--for a savings of $67,412.36.

According to Deb Sharp, workers' compensation coordinator, "This is a direct result of our new safety culture program. We are not just thinking 'safer,' we are doing it."

Stillwater officially began its safety culture program with the hiring of Safety Coordinator Stephen Davenport in 2007. Davenport, whose background includes work in a variety of different areas including environmental sciences, safety, and business management, started by immediately making sure every employee underwent CPR training.

"However," Davenport said, "The greater goal was to engage the workforce at all levels within the city and do so in a manner that actually changes the culture. Culture ultimately determines results."

Davenport helped develop a citywide strategic plan to support the new safety program. Initially, this involved having all employees participate in four hours of safety culture classes. Later, a small team of two representatives from each city department (one staff and one management) began to meet and discuss what needed to be improved, changed, or developed.

The planning team worked to develop an infrastructure in which all departments looked at what they did; where accidents and injuries were occurring; and how to stop, reduce, or eliminate them. Davenport put an emphasis on training and communications, and in 2008 he developed training sessions and best practices for trenching and using trailers. …

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