A department within the Commerce Division of the Chickasaw Nation is the first tribal entity in the country to form an alliance with federal regulatory agencies in an effort to promote workplace safety. Officials with the Chickasaw Enterprises Department of Environmental, Health and Safety signed the agreement with officials of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Texas Engineering Extension Service earlier this week. A similar alliance has been formed with the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Historically, the safety rules and regulations for Chickasaw Nation businesses have been based on federal agency models,” said Kelly Hurt, chief environmental officer for Chickasaw Enterprises. “This alliance establishes a working relationship with these federal agencies for one cause which is to protect our employees. It will make available the best and most up to date resources to reach our goal of zero workplace accidents.”
Nation officials were congratulated by State Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau and OSHA officials for setting the standard in creating the alliance.
“This proves what determined people can do,” said Luis Villanueva, assistant regional administer of technical support and outreach for OSHA. “This agreement will benefit thousands of people employed by Chickasaw Enterprises and sets a precedent for tribal businesses across the country.”
“Congratulations to Chickasaw Enterprises for taking this historic step in being the first tribal entity to form such an alliance in an effort to protect their employees,” said State Commissioner of Labor Brenda Reneau, after presenting the group with a Commissioner’s Commendation.
Hurt says another part of the alliance is an effective training program. In recent months, the Nation has contracted with TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System with direct ties with the OSHA Training Institute. The OSHA Training Institute’s Southwest Education Center at TEEX serves Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas. TEEX will develop curricula and train Chickasaw Enterprises employees in safety awareness and well as policies and procedures.
“The Texas Engineering Extension Service is privileged to partner with Chickasaw Enterprises and OSHA on this progressive and innovative approach to workplace safety and health,” said Bill May, Associate Agency Director for TEEX. “Through this comprehensive training and education alliance, Chickasaw Enterprises is making an important investment in their most valuable resource — their employees.”
“We’re proud to be part of this alliance and excited by the opportunity to train our employees how to protect themselves in the workplace. We view this agreement as a proactive approach to doing business,” said Hurt.