Colorado State University Helping Small Businesses with Occupational Health, Safety for 35 Years

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For more than 35 years, Del Sandfort and his team at Colorado State University have responded to occupational health and safety crises – some as large as the tragedy of 9/11, some as small as helping a spay-and-neuter clinic meet federal occupational safety standards.

The Health and Safety Consultation program takes up only a few small offices in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, but over the years, the program’s impact has been huge: Researchers estimate they’ve helped more than 4,500 businesses impacting 150,000 workers.

The university receives $1 million a year from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, to help small businesses with 250 or fewer employees or corporations with fewer than 500 employees.

Businesses have ranged from battery manufacturing and recycling businesses to concrete batch plants.

Sandfort and his crew have built such a solid reputation over the years that they were also one of the first consulting teams called to New York after 9/11.

“Our mission is to provide free health and safety services to small businesses throughout the state,” said Sandfort, associate professor of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences and director of the Health and Safety Consultation program. “Over the years, we have provided service to thousands of small businesses in Colorado and helped remove tens of thousands of workers from occupational exposures and hazards.

“Employees on this grant represented the university at Ground Zero in New York and at Katrina in New Orleans,” he added.

Sandfort and his team serve three purposes:

• Assess the businesses for compliance, reviewing how they can control hazards and minimize exposures
• Recommend corrections
• Assist businesses with incorporating health and safety from a business point-of-view rather than simply for compliance.

While the services provided by the university are free, OSHA requires employers who request the assessments to correct any serious hazards that are found.

The bottom line, however, is that businesses save money, Sandfort said.

“Through years and years of experience, if a business develops a comprehensive health and safety management system, their injury and illness rates will go down – we know that for a fact,” he said. “It takes a little while in that their workers’ compensation costs will come down and their productivity will go up. It’s just good business.”

For more information or to request an assessment, contact the Health and Safety Consultation program at (970) 491-6151 or go to