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Report on New York Workplace Safety

An electricians' trade journal reported on a recently released report from the organization Public Safety titled "Aim Higher: New York Should Reform its Workers' Compensation Laws to Reduce Injuries". Released on May 6, the report focused on the human and economic cost of injuries and fatalities in New York workplaces.

According to Public Citizen, the cost of workplace injuries to private sector employees in New York State was $10.9 billion between 2010 and 2012. Government workplace safety programs represent a slap on the wrist, according to the report, and do not provide effective incentives or penalties to employers.

For example, the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect workers is severely limited by the agency's financial resources. There are only 115 inspectors assigned to New York, where there are 592,148 public and private workplaces. At current staffing levels, inspecting every workplace in the state would take 110 years to visit every site.

In 2012, OSHA inspectors visited 5,511 workplaces, less than one percent of the total. In the same year, there were 146,300 private industry injury and illness cases reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these, 79,500 were serious injuries that resulted in days away from work, job transfer or work restrictions. Most of the worker injuries in that year - 83 percent -- were in the service sector.

The report recommends that the State of New York change its workplace safety laws. Currently, only companies with higher than average injury rates are required to have safety and loss prevention plans in place. The report noted that states must act because federal resources for agencies like OSHA are limited at best and not likely to increase to the point where they would make a material difference to worker safety in New York.

Read the full report at http://www.citizen.org/documents/new-york-workers-compensation-reduce-injuries-report.pdf

Source: EHS Today, "Workplace Injuries in New York Cost the Economy $10.9 Billion in Three Years." May 6, 2014. http://ehstoday.com/safety/workplace-injuries-new-york-cost-economy-109-billion-three-years