10/11/2006 12:00 AM
In 2001, the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) partnered with the Nueces County Department of Public Works and Building Maintenance to train workers in the latest safety standards available.
Today, the county’s public works claims costs have been reduced by more than $154,000 and building maintenance claims by nearly $17,000.
This is the result of TEEX’s OSHA Training Institute Southwest Education Center, in conjunction with the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), teaching safety practices and providing curriculum guidelines for an injury-free workplace.
“Working with TEEX, Nueces County has made dramatic improvements in reducing the incidence and cost of Worker’s Compensation claims,” said Manuel Tagle, Nueces County construction project manager and safety coordinator, “thus resulting in a reduction of loss time and employee injuries and a tremendous savings to the taxpayers of Nueces County.”
According to Tagle, prior to 2001, Nueces County was suffering from staggering numbers of workplace injuries, raising the costs of taxpayer dollars.
“Five years ago, we had no regular safety meetings and there were no investigations after accidents,” said Tagle. “We took what TEEX taught us and implemented a stringent safety policy including weekly safety meetings. We changed workers’ behavior; we brought the importance of relaying information on how dangerous the workplace can be.”
At the end of fiscal year 2005, Nueces County received the “Gold Star Safety Award” from the Texas Association of Counties, the most prestigious safety award offered by the association, which provides service and assistance to all Texas counties and officials.
As the OSHA Training Institute Southwest Education Center, TEEX provides safety training and resources for OSHA Region VI, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The center is recognized as the top such facility in the country, training more professionals than the next two education centers combined.
TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System, offers hands-on, customized training, technical assistance and emergency response services impacting Texas and beyond. Agency programs include fire services, homeland security, public safety and security, public works, safety and health, search and rescue, and economic solutions.