Kentucky’s Workplace Injury Rate Continues to Drop

March 02 2018 | Blog
  • A 2016 federal report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Kentucky has the lowest non-fatal workplace injury rate in the commonwealth’s history.

    Data was first collected in 1996 when Kentucky reported an incident rate of 8.4 injuries per 100 full-time employees. The 2016 number dropped to the all-time low of 3.4 injuries per 100 full-time employees.

    This decrease in injuries was widely seen by lawmakers as proof that their steps in recent years to increase worker safety have been effective.

    “Our mission at the Labor Cabinet is to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place by educating employers and employees about workplace safety so that the 1.9 million men and women working in Kentucky return home each day safe and sound. We will not rest until Kentucky is the safest place to work and live in the country,” said Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey in a press release.

    The report also said that the number of work-related fatalities decreased over the previous year from 99 fatalities in 2015 to 92 in 2016.


    Facts from the Report

    Of the 92 killed:

    • 85 were men
    • 82 were white, 3 were black, and 7 were Hispanic
    • 29 were in the  “natural resources, construction, and maintenance” occupations. Of these, 11 died from accidents with “objects and equipment”, 9 were “transportation incidents,” and 5 were slips and falls
    • Tied with the above reason as the most common industry, 29 were in “transportation and material moving occupations”, where 26 of them died from “transportation incidents”.
    • 69 of the fatalities were employees, while 23 were self-employed

    As a whole, the U.S. has 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses and 5,190 fatalities.


    What It Means

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, estimates that Worker’s Compensation paid out by employers equals almost $1 billion per week for “direct costs alone.” Direct costs include workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, and costs for legal services.

    In addition to those costs, employers then have to pay to “train replacement employees, accident investigation, implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.”

    This accounts for an untold cost that could easily be avoided by increased safety awareness.


    Workers’ Comp and the Law

    Workers’ Compensation, or more commonly Workers’ Comp, is a set of laws that protect workers when they are injured on the job and cannot work because of their injuries. The law does not discriminate over who was at fault. The fact that a person was employed at the time of the injury and injured on the job, as a result of working, is enough by law.

    Worker’s comp covers a variety of incidents such as sustaining a physical injury, being involved in an accident that make an existing injury worse or succumbing to environmental injuries like illness from toxic chemicals encountered on the job.

    Workers’ Comp in addition to reimbursement for medical costs – covers lost wages from the time the person is unable to work, and future expenses such as rehab, health care, and prescription medication.

    A wrongful death claim can be filed by an immediate family member or a personal injury lawyer on their behalf as another way of receiving compensation.


    Kentucky’s Formula for Success

    To continue the downward trend the state has enjoyed over the past decade, Kentucky has instituted a program called “Kentucky Safe”. The program provides training and consultation geared toward keeping injury and illness rates heading downward. These are provided at no-cost to employers across the state – including on-site consultations, compliance assistance, educational material and class-style and online training for employers.

    “Last year, the [Kentucky Labor Cabinet Division of Occupational Safety and Health Education & Training] conducted 272 consultative surveys identifying and ensuring the abatement of 2,067 serious hazards. Also, 142 training courses were conducted, reaching approximately 4,300 attendees in response to training requests from employers,” the Labor Department said in a press release.

    Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey says the reason for the state-wide injury and fatality decrease is mainly because of a change in the workplace culture.

    “This achievement has only been possible by employers and employees who have embraced a culture of safety in their workplace. They deserve to be congratulated for their commitment, and these reports clearly show that Kentucky is moving in the right direction, but there is still much work to be done,” he said.

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