Okla. Has Record Year for Low Workplace Injury, Illness

December 15, 2004

For the second year in a row, Oklahoma workplaces set records for the fewest number of recordable injuries and illness as well as the lowest injury and illness rate, according to the state’s Department of Labor.

The 2003 state workplace injury and illness rate of 5 per 100 full-time workers is the lowest since the Department of Labor began tracking the data in 1983. The rate represents a 40 percent drop since Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau’s launch of the Safety Pays promotion of workplace safety in 1996.

“No doubt should remain with anyone that workplace safety programs produce positive benefits for both workers and employers,” Reneau said. “If you reduce injuries, you reduce workers’ compensation costs and you improve employee morale. That’s good for business, good for the economy and very good for Oklahomans. The success of workplace safety programs in the manufacturing industry is especially spectacular.”

Since 1994, the injury and illness rate for Manufacturing has plunged 48 percent from 14.3 per 100 workers to an all-time low of 7.5 per 100 workers in 2003. Manufacturing accounted for 22 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses in 2003. The 10,600 recordable injuries and illnesses represents a 16 percent drop from the 12,600 injuries and illnesses recorded in 2002.

“A workplace injury is costly both in terms of its human toll and the financial hit to a business and its trickle down impact on the economy,” Reneau said. “Preventing injuries saves millions of dollars in workers’ comp costs. It increases productivity and avoids the potential for heavy federal OSHA fines. That translates into big money for our state’s business climate, our workforce and our economy.”

The state OSHA Consultation program identified and corrected 4,473 serious workplace hazards in FY04, potentially protecting Oklahoma businesses from more than $7.6 million in costly federal OSHA fines.

For information on the state Labor Department’s free, confidential, voluntary and non-punitive Safety Pays consultation program call toll-free statewide at (888) 269-5353, ext 276.

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