December 16, 2014 – Billings, MT (Updated)
Since its creation, WorkSafeMT, Inc. operated as a public / private partnership. The public component of the partnership was provided through funding provided from the State of Montana and personnel and other resources provided by the Department of Labor – Employment Relations Division. The private components consisted of financial and personnel support from private companies operating in Montana as well as many individuals and small businesses. The commonality between these disparate groups was the desire to create positive change in the state, to reduce the incidence rate of work-related injuries and deaths. Beginning with the model provided by the Canadian Province of British Columbia, WorkSafeMT took a multi-prong approach to tackling the vexing problem of the cost of workers’ compensation.
WorkSafeMT approached the problem in two ways, directly with programs involving the Department of Labor and Industry and with Public Service Announcement programming in a variety of venues. Successful programs that began with WorkSafeMT include the Stay At Work / Return To Work program and the traveling educational event SafetyFest. Both of these programs are funded and continue to be managed by the DOL&I and impact upon thousands of Montana workers and business owners annually. The PSA outreach programs involved radio, television, newspaper and internet-based placements with professionally scripted and produced educational spots in a content space between the Montana “Meth Not Ever” commercials and less graphic PSA presentations.
After buy in and legislation that met with the approval of the Governor’s Labor Management Advisory Council and both houses of the Legislature, a former Governor of Montana vetoed the Legislature’s bill for continued funding of the safety programs and messages of WorkSafeMT. This essentially ended the public portion of the public / private partnership. For two years the Board with assistance from the Executive Director of WorkSafeMT approached the situation from a variety of angles. Unfortunately, without the public finding component, the Board made the best decision that was available. Fillings have been made with the Montana Secretary of Sate, the Internal Revenue Service and other interested institutions indicating that WorkSafeMT, Inc. remains a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation, however without the financial or personnel / resource support of the Sate of Montana..