BREEZY POINT -- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or so the old adage goes.

This advice can easily apply to the world of occupational safety. If business owners don't take precautions to make their work environment safe, they'll pay for it later in terms of workers' compensation claims, legal fees and, ultimately, human suffering.

Joseph and Virginia Casey, Breezy Point, started a new home business this summer to help small- to mid-sized businesses develop and implement a safety program. Many times only the larger companies can afford to hire a full-time safety professional.

The Caseys have each worked for over 15 years in injury prevention, loss prevention and risk management. They both spent years as OSHA compliance officers in the Twin Cities metro area and then moved to the Brainerd lakes area. Joe formerly worked as safety director at Ah-Gwah-Ching before they started their new business, Casey Safety Consultants, in June. Virginia is also employed as safety director for Brainerd Regional Human Services Center.

The Caseys can work with a company and design a comprehensive risk management program or review the company's current plan. For some companies, they can offer contractual safety services, like in-house safety director services. Often, it is hard for business owners to keep tabs on OSHA rules and regulations. They can provide comprehensive program reviews $200 or less.

"Ideally, I'd like to sit down and go over all programs they're required to have," he explained. "See where they're having injuries, give them a complete picture and a safety audit and tell them what their training needs are. It may take 1-2 years for a company to develop an effective risk management program. The important thing is that they start someplace."

The Caseys will inspect all areas of a company in order to develop its own customized program, such as lighting, parking, sidewalks, water drainage, air ventilation, customer, patient and worker safety. An important aspect of a program is to work directly with the company and its employees.

"They all have to be involved, it's a process," he explained. "It's easy to put a policy together but we have to make sure all or part can be implemented."

The Caseys are also licensed asbestos supervisors and building inspectors. When asbestos is found in buildings, a licensed asbestos supervisor is required on site.

They can also assess a company's risk of fire.

"Seventy-five to 85 percent of all companies that burn down never rebuild," said Casey. "That's a big deal. That's a lot of people out of work."

Casey is also quick to add that it is equally important for them to reinforce the positive programs or safety measures a company has already implemented. Generally, it will take them about 1-2 days to visit the company then work on a company's safety program and paperwork. That can vary depending on the size and type of business. They can also show statistics on any future costs they may encounter by not developing a safety program.

"We are adamant about confidentiality," explained Virginia. Some companies are reluctant to have ex-OSHA inspectors visit their site, particularly if they think they may be reported. "We're sensitive about those issues. What they do with their report after we're finished is their business."

Contact Casey Safety Consultants at 562-4844 or by e-mail at safety@uslink.net. Their company Web site, www.joesafety.com, is expected to be online by Nov. 1.

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