Accident Rates in Okla. Public Sector Workplace Hit Historic Low

August 16, 2005

Oklahoma public sector workplace accident rates are the lowest in state history, according to Commissioner of Labor Brenda Reneau. Gov. Brad Henry, reacting to the news, said the data demonstrates “the professionalism and dedication” of public employees.

“Incident Rate” describes the number of work-related accidents per 100 employees in a calendar year. The 2004 average incident rate for public employees in Oklahoma is 5.7 per 100 workers. “Public employees” include both state and local government workers in this analysis.

In announcing the incident rate, Commissioner Reneau commented, “That’s still too many accidents – but it’s the lowest rate ever recorded for public sector employment in our state.” The rate is a decline from 6.4 per 100 in 2003. It is far below the 8.3 rate recorded both in 1987, the first year of modern records, and again in 1995, Commissioner Reneau’s first year in office.

Gov. Henry thanked Commissioner Reneau for “more good news about Oklahoma workplaces.” The chief executive also said, “I have long supported the Labor Department’s Safety Pays program, including private sector consultation and sensible public sector enforcement, as well as other safety efforts throughout state government. This latest data is further evidence of the professionalism and dedication of Oklahoma’s public employees.”

Reneau explained, “Steady improvement has been achieved by targeting enforcement and program review/training of government entities with incident rates over the state average. For the last three years, inspections of locations with the most injuries and illnesses have helped us focus limited resources on the areas of greatest need.”

The Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) unit at the Department of Labor has regulatory oversight to ensure public employers provide a safe and healthy workplace. The unit, part of the OSHA Consultation Division, focuses on educating public sector managers on what is legally required, shares best practices, puts employers in touch with available resources and stresses hazard identification. At the September 2005 Oklahoma Municipal League conference, Commissioner Reneau and PEOSH employees are scheduled to conduct breakout sessions on safety culture development and reduced workers’ compensation costs.

In 2003, special efforts were aimed at all facilities with 100 or more employees where the incident rate was above average. Then, in 2004, PEOSH “target lists” were widened to include public sector entities with smaller employee bases (45 employees). This year, Reneau said, “the agency’s Statistical Research Division is providing PEOSH with even more specific information to help us identify entities and facilities which need our services.”

Among other duties, Commissioner Reneau serves as chairman of the Worker Safety Policy Council. She reports regularly to the governor and legislative leaders on progress and continuing challenges in workplace safety.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.