By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service


Manhattan, KS– An official with the Kansas Department of Labor told a gathering of entrepreneurs and community planners recently that the agency is all in on promoting health and safety in the state’s small businesses.


Allen Vinyard, director of the state’s Industrial Safety and Health program, said the group conducted approximately 340 health and safety consultations at private businesses in Kansas in 2022.


Vinyard was the featured speaker during the Jan. 6 First Friday e-Call, a monthly online series hosted by K-State Research and Extension that helps to nurture small businesses and inspire entrepreneurship in Kansas. The online discussions, which routinely host dozens of Kansas citizens from the public and private sectors, are available free each month.


“Everything we do is a free service to the people of the state of Kansas,” Vinyard said, noting that health and safety consultations can help small businesses control worker’s compensation insurance premiums, improve the safety and health of employees and increase productivity and profitability.


Vinyard said the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers in the United States to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees. OSHA requirements include providing appropriate personal protective equipment, establishing an emergency action plan, hazard communication and more.


The Kansas Department of Labor’s Industrial Safety and Health program, he said, can help businesses increase the safety of the workplace. In 2022, the most cited hazards in Kansas businesses included:


Vinyard said the Kansas Department of Labor recognizes health and safety in private business by assigning SHARP status – Safety and Health Achievement Program, signifying “exemplary injury and illness prevention programs.” The program, he adds, exempts Kansas private businesses from OSHA inspections for up to two years.


“This is the best of the best of small businesses in Kansas for safety and health programs,” Vinyard said.


The Kansas Department of Labor also provides free safety and health inspections for public businesses in 105 counties, 627 cities, 308 school districts, 92 state agencies and 36 higher education locations. The program also conducts safety assessments for amusement park rides, and training for small businesses in Kansas.


More information on the program is available online from the Kansas Department of Labor.


Vinyard’s full talk and other First Friday presentations are available online from K-State Research and Extension.