Now is the time to face the issue of workplace safety. It’s a crucial one. In 2005 alone, 5,702 employees died in work-related accidents. In all, there were 4,214,200 on-the-job accidents resulting in 1,234,700 lost workdays. That’s right, more than 1.2 million workdays lost to accidents in the workplace around the U.S.
Missouri worker safety numbers are also staggering. In 2005 alone, 503,530 workers suffered what are called sprains, strains, or tears, while some 270,890 suffered painful back injuries. And 255,750 employees fell in the workplace.
All of the numbers are from the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The year 2005 is the last year with complete statistics. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of monitoring those millions of yearly injuries in Missouri and nationwide.
The figures themselves are dramatic. But they only reflect figures for the private sector. They do not include public, high risk jobs like law enforcement, firefighting, and paramedical service, or employees in the non-profit sector.
As the statistics show, falls are a common cause of accidents. Slips, trips, and falls generally are thought of as more of an annoyance than a danger. But they rank second highest among the causes of workplace deaths. For example, 732 people died after workplace falls in 2005. Driving, the first most serious cause of deaths on the job, took 1,258 lives.
OSHA has developed a Workplace Safety Pack, which offers an easy to understand guide to taking safety precautions on the job. Included in the pack are Workplace Ergonomics as well as three safety posters – the Workstation Safety Tips poster, the Lifting Safely poster, and the Slips, Trips and Falls poster.
According to OSHA, education is key to a workplace safety plan. The program should remind employees of the need for safety and show them how to apply the right safety measures.
Both employees and employers should be aware of a new program designed to warn of the hazards of trespassing on mine property.
A new safety campaign, “Stay Out — Stay Alive,” is intended to address Missouri worker safety and help prevent mine accidents. Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, explains, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States.” According to Stickler, “Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
The new safety program will work to educate people on the hazards of mines. Both workers and outdoor enthusiasts need to be aware of the dangers posed by mines. Most people think of mine accidents as only involving collapses. Actually, the majority of mine accidents don’t involve mine workers. Instead, these accidents happen to recreational enthusiasts, children, and workers from other industries.
According to Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health,
“There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States.” He explains, “Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
Most mine accidents do not involve mine workers. Instead, these accidents involve outdoor enthusiasts, children, and workers in industries other than mining. In some cases, children have trespassed onto mine property and been hurt. Workers from industries unrelated to mining may have accidents on mine property or may even fall into mine shafts.
Quarries filled with water pose special threats. The water in these quarries is deep and very cold. In addition, old machinery and other hazardous objects may be hidden by the water so that swimmers are unaware of the danger. Moreover, the quarries may have rock ledges that are unstable and slopes that are slippery and dangerous.
The Missouri Department of Labor and Missouri OSHA have recently issued a Missouri worker safety alert. This comes at a time when there is increasing concern over the safety of the use of ATVs in industry.
With this in mind, a recent bulletin contains information on operating guidelines and training that employers can follow to protect those who work for them from ATV related accidents.
With many industries now using ATVs or All-Terrain Vehicles, the Missouri OSHA alert has come at an apt time.
Statistics for recreational use of these vehicles do not make for happy reading with the number of fatalities rising from 29 in 1982 to 470 in 2004. The all time high for total injuries is 136,100 and over 800,000 ATV related injuries have been reported in the last ten years.
The Missouri OSHA alert reports that workers who use ATVs in their job are similar risks as those using them for recreational use. There have been over 100 fatal accidents involving ATVs in the workplace in the past ten years. With statistics of this nature for recreational use, it is important that those for industry use of ATVs don’t follow suit.
In some cases, the vehicles are being modified to accommodate extra machinery at the back or front, and this can cause an ATV to become unstable as they are not designed for this use. Although they sometimes have front or rear storage racks, they should not carry heavy loads, as is often the case, or more than one person, that is, the person who operates the machine.
Industries that use ATVs in the workplace include law enforcement, facilities management, construction and agriculture. The use of ATV’s is increasing steadily in the workplace, often with little or no training on the operation of such vehicles.
The Missouri OSHA alert provides guidelines for the use of ATV type vehicles.
Seventeen people in Missouri were recently convicted of unemployment insurance fraud totaling almost $80,000. The Missouri Dept. of Labor and Industrial Relations announced on January 18 that it has secured convictions against all 17 people, and filed charges against 13 more.
Under the law, anyone who works and doesn’t report the income is guilty of Missouri unemployment fraud. Some of the criminals in these cases earned up to $120,000 per year, while claiming unemployment benefits at public expense.
In one case, a Texas County, Missouri man claimed unemployment even though he was operating a successful eBay business generating more than $250,000 in revenue over the year. The man’s take home earnings, after taxes, were in excess of $120,000. He collected more than $10,421 in unemployment compensation during the same period. Prosecutors note that the man used the money primarily to purchase pornography, and to take a trip to Thailand.
Others charged and convicted include a grandmother from Franklin County and a childcare provider from Clay County.
Under the law, anyone who works while collecting unemployment benefits must report the wages earned. According to prosecutors, too many people believe that if they work “under the table” or are paid in cash, their earnings don’t count. Legally, this is simply not true.
Prosecutors used a number of resources including tax returns and bank statements to track down violators who had substantial earnings in excess of what was reported on their unemployment claims.
The Division of Employment Security aggressively pursues criminal prosecution of individuals who commit Missouri unemployment fraud. Fraudulent unemployment insurance benefit claims are those any funds collected by individuals who do not qualify for benefits. According to prosecutors, such claims raise employer taxes and reduce the fund that is used for paying benefits.
Under Missouri law, workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and are actively seeking work are eligible to receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. Workers must also have worked in covered employment and earned sufficient qualifying wages to be entitled to any unemployment insurance benefits.
A new program in Missouri is aimed at helping unemployed autoworkers. The Career Advancement Account (CAA) is a pilot project of the state of Missouri in collaboration with the U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Under this exciting new program, unemployed autoworkers will be eligible for accounts worth $3,000, for any type of training that they like. Even better, the grants are renewable for one year, meaning the workers are eligible for a total of $6,000. The money is a grant, not a loan, and does not have to be repaid.
Between 2,500 and 4,000 automotive workers could potentially take advantage of CAAs. States will be eligible for grants of $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor, provided they come up with $1.5 million in matching funds.
“Education is America’s great equalizer, and Career Advancement Accounts are like Pell Grants for workers — opening opportunities to increase their skills and equipping them for the competitive global economy,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco.
According to a number of surveys, there will be high demand by 2014 for skilled labor in a number of industries, including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, energy, and transportation. In the healthcare industry alone, 8 of the 20 fastest-growing jobs can be found. CAAs will allow workers to invest in their future by gaining the training to secure good jobs.
It is estimated that nationwide, the widespread implementation of CAAs would more than triple the number of American workers who could access post-secondary education and training. Career Advancement Accounts are part of a broader effort to redirect the billions of dollars spent nationwide on worker training.
“Career Advancement Accounts empower workers to access the education and skills training they need to take advantage of new career opportunities in high growth sectors of America’s 21st century economy,” said U. S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
Missouri is one of five states that volunteered to test the program to help autoworkers get needed education and training. These Career Advancement Accounts (CAAs) can be used by displaced or current workers to pay for expenses directly related to improving their job skills, such as tuition, books and fees.