The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified 12,500 workplaces with the highest occupational injury and illness rates and is urging the employers to take action to remove the hazards causing the high rates.
The employers are those whose companies reported the highest "lost work day injury and illness" rates to OSHA in a 1997 survey covering 80,000 workplaces.
Results showed that for every 100 full-time workers, the 12,500 employers had eight or more injuries or illnesses which resulted in lost work days. The national average is 3.3.
"These employers must do everything possible to reduce the hazards in their workplaces and we're willing to help them," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman.
OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress sent letters to the employers, as well as a copy of the injury and illness data for their companies and a list of the most frequently violated OSHA standards for their particular industry.
In the letter Jeffress said, "OSHA recognizes that an elevated lost work day injury and illness rate does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health on the part of your business. Whatever the cause, however, a high rate is costly to your company in both personal and financial terms."
Jeffress suggested that employers with 250 or fewer employees ask for assistance from OSHA's on-site consultation program to address their safety and health issues.
The consultation program is administered by state agencies and operated separately from OSHA's inspection program. The service free and there are no fines even if problems are found.
Jeffress also advised that employers could consider hiring an outside consultant, talking with insurance carriers, or contacting the workers' compensation agency in their state.