The Minnesota Safety & Health Conference brings together about 1500 people who are workplace safety and health practitioners, managers, supervisors, line employees and others for whom safety and health is their job or a part of their responsibilities. They come from all over Minnesota as well as from bordering states.
One of the most well-attended conference break-out sessions year after year is an update from government regulators on new laws, interpretations of laws and standards, a glimpse at what they’re working on, new information on most frequently cited standards, and sharing best practices. The purpose of that session is to help employers and employees to better understand laws and standards and to get compliance advice. Many attendees live outside of the cities where government officials are housed and have little opportunity other than the conference to interact with them.
Also at the conference, one luncheon is entitled, “Lunch with the Enforcers”. It is a very informal event, with no planned program. Government officials are spread throughout the luncheon hall, seated at tables that have signs indicating the agency they represent. Conference attendees have a chance to talk informally and get connected with the folks responsible for safety and health laws and regulations. Both attendees and enforcers have told us how much they appreciate those casual conversations. They help to establish relationships, which leads to better understanding on both sides of sometimes confrontational issues.
We view the presence of government officials at the Minnesota Safety & Health Conference as an important component of helping employers and employees to not only comply with regulations, standards and laws, but to go beyond compliance to establish highly-effective workplace safety and health programs that save lives and reduce injuries and help companies to be more productive and therefore more profitable. And that is a significant factor in building a thriving economy and a thriving employment base.