“Counties and local jurisdictions can take initiative to improve on-the-job health and safety in their communities,” says the LHSFNA’s Occupational Safety and Health Division Director Scott Schneider, who became part of that growing movement in January when he was appointed to the newly-formed Montgomery County (MD) Commission on Workers Safety & Health.

In announcing the formation of the Commission, County Executive Ike Leggett also specified that, henceforth, all solicitations for County construction contracts will require bidders to submit company safety records and evidence of strong workplace safety programs. Under the new procedures, bidders will lose “points” for inadequate results or weak programs. Previously, contractors seeking business with the County only had to certify that they were abiding by existing laws.

Leggett also announced the establishment of a new County website designed to provide occupational safety and health information to workers in the County and to provide the information and forms necessary to lodge complaints with the Maryland Office on Safety and Health (MOSH) that has jurisdiction over all Maryland workplaces.

Schneider, who is a long-time resident of the County, will join the Commission to advise the County Executive on further policy changes. Also appointed to the Commission were representatives from the D.C. Metro Construction Trades Department, the Communications Workers of America, the Montgomery County Government Employees Association and CPWR—The Center for Research and Training.

Bucking the trend that says government regulation is an impediment to business growth, Leggett said, “Every job in our community ought to be a safe job. Despite our budget challenges, there are ways we can use existing resources to help reduce workplace injuries and illnesses in the County. We can’t do MOSH’s job for it, but we can be an extra pair of eyes and ears. We can require companies bidding for County contracts to factor in their workplace safety record and workplace safety programs.We can educate people about their rights to a safe workplace.”

[Steve Clark]