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May 31, 2016
Mayor says his city is facing up to job safety challenges

The mayor of Tulsa says his city is becoming a safer place to work. Find out why the changes were urgently needed and who took charge.

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For Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr., a 2012 report indicating that Tulsa had an incident rate twice that of similar-sized cities served as a much needed wake-up call. In a recent commentary, Bartlett explained that Tulsa’s workers’ compensation costs had reached $27 million.

“Rather than pay approximately $1 million for a contractor to create a new program, I challenged city leaders to review best practices and model our program on successes.” Bartlett also asked city workers, supervisors, and managers to assume more accountability and responsibility for a safe work environment.

In the intervening years, the city has experienced a 25 percent reduction in OSHA-recordable injuries. Yet despite steady progress, Bartlett says the work is not done. His current year’s goal is to reduce recordable accidents and injuries by 20 percent.

According to Bartlett, Tulsa employees have taken on the challenge of transforming the city’s safety culture and have embraced the slogan now featured on city posters, “Being Safe Is No Accident.” Among other factors contributing to the improvement is a new distracted driving policy that took effect May 1. Also, the city has produced a video, “Safety Matters: Our Future Is Now,” that looks at the evolution of workplace safety and highlights families with multiple generations working for the city.

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