|We've got NEWS|
|Tuesday, December 7, 1999 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ACCIDENTS DECLINE IN STATE BUSINESSES
Safety is working in Wisconsin
MADISONA report released today by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) shows that the number of workplace injuries and illnesses dropped significantly from 1996 to 1997. The 1997 Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Report, published by the DWD shows that the number of workplace injuries in the public and private sector dropped by 3,357 cases over the year while the labor force grew by 57,500.
Workplace injuries and illnesses dropped from 10.2 cases per 100 workers in 1996 to 9.8 cases in 1997, demonstrating a significant decline in the number of workplace injuries. The manufacturing, construction, transportation, wholesale and retail trade industries all experienced over-the-year declines in the total number of cases involving injuries and illnesses.
DWD Secretary Linda Stewart commended Wisconsin businesses for their efforts to focus on safety in the workplace and said state businesses recognize that safety is a top priority. She said Wisconsin employers can improve their bottom line by controlling losses from workplace injuries.
"Safety makes sense for Wisconsin businesses because improved safety means better productivity," said Stewart. "Dollars spent on effective safety materials and training can reap big savings through lower insurance premiums. More and more, employers are realizing that they can be proactive about safety and prevent workplace injuries."
The report also showed that the number of cases that resulted in lost workdays resulted in an average of 4.3 cases in 1997, down from 4.5 in 1996. The number of cases that resulted in days away from work dropped from 3.1 to 2.8. The report showed that 40 percent of workplace accidents resulted in sprains and strains and that 40 percent of the injuries involved shoulders and back injuries. In addition, workers age 25-34 who work as operators, laborers, and fabricators sustained the most injuries in the workplace. Men represented 66 percent of the injured workers.
Stewart added that a good safety program not only prevents injuries, it can save companies time and money by reducing production down time, cost of hiring and training replacement workers, delays in filling orders and serving customers, emotional trauma for victims and co-workers, insurance premiums, defense costs and fines for safety violations and accident investigations and reports.
In December 1998, the Workers Compensation division implemented its own safety program and issued 411 safety report cards to employers with accident rates higher than average for their business type. The division also developed a safety manual with resources materials and contact information. In addition, the division issued certificates of recognition to 2,300 safety-conscious Wisconsin employers that were accident free for three years.
The Workers Compensation Division, housed in the Department of Workforce Development, (DWD) works with insurance carriers, privately self-insured employers and medical providers to ensure that injured workers receive medical care and compensation benefits guaranteed by workers compensation law. The division manages workplace injury claims for over 20,000 employers, 400 insurance carriers and 200 privately self-insured employers, hundreds of medical providers and 65,000 injured workers each year. During the 1997-1999 biennium, the division: