Public sector injuries have fallen

The Oklahoma Department of Labor reports Oklahoma public sector employers have reduced their injury and illness incidence rate from 4.3 in 2013 to 4.0 in 2014.

Oklahoma Department of Labor’s Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Division (PEOSH) Director Diana Jones has lead a targeted and focused enforcement program on public sector employers who have an incidence rate above the state’s average. As a result, Oklahoma has seen a 44-percent decrease in the incidence rate over the past 15 years.

“We are the only state in the country that conducts a complete census of public sector injury and illnesses,” said Jones.

Oklahoma collects injury and illness data from almost 6,000 public sector establishments.

“By using this data to target public sector workplace safety inspections with the locations which have an incidence rate greater than the state’s average, we utilize our resources more effectively and efficiently,” she said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates, covering nearly 18.5 million state and local government workers, public sector employees in the United States public sector workplaces experienced a higher incidence rate of work-related injuries and illnesses than their private industry counterparts. The BLS conducts a sampling of state and local government’s injury and illness rates from 41 participating states.

The average incident rate from this survey is 5.2 injuries per 100 workers.  The state average incident rate for municipal employers in Oklahoma remains significantly higher at 8.5, while the average for county government in the state is only slightly higher than the overall state average at 4.4.

About 70 percent of the work-related injuries and illnesses in public sector are associated to sprains and strains.

“This number is significant and suggests the need for public sector employers to address the causes of sprains and strains in their safety and health management systems,” said Betsey Kulakowski, assistant director of the PEOSH division.

The Oklahoma Department of Labor’s PEOSH Division provides limited consultation services for public sector employers who request assistance.  For more information, call the Oklahoma Department of Labor at 405-521-6140.