OSHA Notifies Employers with High Illness and Injury Rates

By SHRM Online Apr 23, 2009
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Thousands of employers around the United States receivedlettersfrom the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in April 2009 warning that their employee illness and injury rates were more than twice the national average.

More than 13,500 workplaces received letters notifying them that their rate of Days Away from work, Restricted work or job Transfer injury and illness (DART) were higher than average, based on a survey of 80,000 worksites’ 2007 safety data. For every 100 full-time workers, the 13,500 employers had 5.0 or more injuries or illnesses that resulted in days away from work, restricted work or job transfer. The national average is 2.1.

The letter, signed by Deputy Assistant Secretary Donald G. Shalhoub, told employers that some of them could expect inspections in 2010.

“OSHA recognizes that your elevated DART rate does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health. Whatever the cause, a high rate is costly to your company in both personal and financial terms. In addition, you should be aware that OSHA may target up to 4,500 of the workplaces identified in the survey for inspection in the next year.”

The letter suggested ways in which employers could reduce DART rates, such as talking with their insurance carriers, contacting their states’ workers’ compensation agencies and seeking input from their workers and unions. The letter mentioned that employers with 250 or fewer workers can ask for assistance from OSHA’s on-site consultation program, administered by state agencies and operated separately from OSHA’s inspection program. The service is free, and officials say employers are not in danger of being fined if problems are found.

The list of workplaces receiving the letter can be found here.

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