New Funds to Help Keep Workers, Workplaces Safe, Healthy

New Funds to Help Keep Workers, Workplaces Safe, Healthy

Apr 4, 2005 6:00 PM

A bill passed by the Utah Legislature this year will mean up to $500,000 in additional annual funding for the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (RMCOEH) at the University of Utah.

The new funding is earmarked for the center's graduate-level training programs in safety and ergonomics; industrial hygiene; hazardous substances; and occupational medicine. The money is to be directed to the education programs that help employers promote workplace safety .

Sponsored by Sen. Ed Mayne, D-Salt Lake, S.B. 159 does not impose new taxes, but allows self-insured employers to designate part of their workers compensation insurance premium taxes specifically for RMCOEH. Employers who designate money for the center will receive an offset against their premium taxes. An employer who donates $10,000, to RMCOEH, for example, will pay $10,000 less in premium taxes.

Kurt Hegmann, M.D., M.P.H., RMCOEH director and research associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the U School of Medicine, said the legislation is a partnership between the center and Utah businesses.

"Utah businesses rallied strongly behind this legislation," Hegmann said, "because in the long run, all businesses benefit from safer workplaces and healthier employees."

Established in 1977, RMCOEH is one of only 16 national education and research centers supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. More than 300 professionals have graduated from its academic programs, and its continuing education program presents more than 120 courses annually to more than 2,600 attendees.

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