Government workers sometimes face serious danger at the jobsite. A new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report on severe injuries in the workplace shows that highway and utility construction and the postal service were among leaders in number of severe injuries reported. The report was issued in mid-March. Its title: “Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation.”

The report’s table, “Top 25 Industry Groups Reporting Severe Injuries,” lists several categories that include government workers:

Postal Service

Utility System Construction

Highway, Street, and Bridge Construction

Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution, including municipal power

According to the report, a little more than 10,000 severe injuries were reported in the first year. Almost three-quarters of those were hospitalizations and about one-quarter were amputations.

OSHA notes that it responded to 62 percent of the reports by asking employees to conduct incident investigations and propose solutions, rather than by sending an investigator. The agency did send compliance officers to conduct investigations on 58 percent of all amputation reports, however.

Working with OSHA, many employers have found ways to eliminate hazards and protect other workers from the same injuries. One case mentioned in the report discusses a worker at a wastewater treatment facility in Illinois.

The report explains: “A worker was overcome with heat exhaustion and hospitalized. The employer immediately instituted more frequent employee breaks with water provided, and within weeks had installed cooling fans and submitted plans for a new ventilation system to control worker exposure to excessive heat.”

Risk doesn’t differentiate between private and public employees, says Matt Crouse. He is senior environmental, health and safety management (EHS) advisor at UL EHS Sustainability. Crouse told GPN that highway and construction work are among the highest-risk professions that require a comprehensive approach to safety.

“There are concrete steps that employers can take to build an environment that recognizes and mitigates risk,” says Crouse. “Training, visual management, risk recognition, control measures, and safety-ingrained work procedures can help create a safer, more controlled environment that is beneficial for safety and operational efficiency.”

UL EHS Sustainability is a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global independent safety science company. UL EHS Sustainability empowers organizations to protect the well-being of workers, reduce risk, improve productivity, enhance compliance, and drive business improvement through its EHS, supply chain, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility platforms.

In the video, learn more about the safety training offerings from UL EHS Sustainability.


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