Workplace Safety: Does Your State Get an “A”?
The Workplace Safety Hall of Fame
Many aspects of occupational safety and health are regulated at the federal level, but state regulations and standards also play a role. The State of Safety report, published by the National Safety Council (NSC), identifies and ranks states across three key workplace safety categories: 1) Workers’ Compensation; 2) Preparedness, Prevention and Enforcement; and 3) Worker Health and Well-Being. Here are the ten highest ranking states in terms of doing things right, along with their grades:
1) Illinois (A)
2) Washington (A)
3) Colorado (B)
4) Minnesota (B)
5) District of Columbia (B)
6) Maryland (B)
7) Oregon (B)
8) Alaska (B)
9) Maine (B)
10) New Hampshire (B)
Let’s now look at the three different categories.
According to statistics referenced in the NSC report, a staggering $62.3 billion was paid under workers’ compensation in 2014. The average claim amount was $38,617. These are huge numbers, especially when you consider how preventable many fatalities and injuries can be. By looking at key measures like maximum benefits and length of coverage, we can get a good idea whether states are providing acceptable levels of protection, the report says.
So how are states performing for workers’ compensation? Fifteen states and D.C. achieve a grade of “On track”, meaning they have three indicators out of three in place, while 16 states achieve a grade of “Developing”, meaning they have two out of three indicators in place.
States Also Need to be Proactive
It’s good if a state takes care of injured workers through generous workers’ compensation programs, but what about proactive measures? States can require workplaces to have programs in place to address safety and health issues, and engage workers at all levels. For example, some states require an active safety committee. OSHA estimates that safety and health programs can reduce injuries by 15% to 35% for employers that do not currently have one.
So how are states performing for prevention, preparedness and enforcement? Ten states achieve a grade of “On track”, meaning they have 3.5 indicators out of five in place, while 25 states and D.C. achieve a grade of “Developing”, meaning they have at least 1.5 out of five indicators in place.
States Start to Realize the Value of Wellness Programs
An occupational safety and health program must also focus on worker well-being. States are increasingly realizing that there is more to safety that the prevention of physical harm. They have the authority to mandate the existence of workplace wellness programs. According to the NSC report, although it is still an evolving area, research shows promising links between wellness programs and safety outcomes.
So how are states performing for worker health and well-being? Not so good. Only two states and D.C. achieve a grade of “On track”, meaning they have three indicators out of three in place, while 26 states achieve a grade of “Developing”, meaning they have two out of three indicators in place. Twenty-two states are “off track” with only one or zero indicators out of three in place.
What Does it Mean for You?
It’s interesting to see what states are the best for workplace safety. But what does it mean for your safety management program? The bottom line is that safety and health regulations and policies vary enormously from one state to another. You can’t rely strictly on regulatory compliance to achieve safety excellence. Imagine having plants, factories and employees in multiple states. If you only aim for compliance, your plants in Illinois, Washington or Colorado (the top three states) may end up with a better safety performance than plants in Idaho, Wyoming or Kansas (the bottom three).
To achieve safety excellence at all sites across all states, you must implement a uniform, standardized EHS management system throughout the entire enterprise. This can be enabled through EHS software that helps to track key occupational safety and health metrics, and verify whether all sites are achieving the desired results. Through EHS management software, you can raise the level of safety performance uniformly across all sites by assessing all workplace risks, implementing corrective and preventive action plans, and sharing best practices and information on workplace hazards across all sites.
Do you want to improve EHS management in your organization through software? Download the Verdantix Green Quadrant EHS Software 2017 report to learn more about market trends and compare the top 20 EHS software suppliers.