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Officials in Oklahoma metropolis astounded by high work injury rates

In these tough economic times, cities here in California and across the United States are looking for innovative ways to cut costs and preserve valuable funds. One area in particular where cities are looking to save money is that of work injuries/work comp claims.

In fact, many cities are actively seeking to reduce the number of costly work comp claims by implementing certain employee safety awareness and/or wellness programs.

Interestingly, one city that is now giving serious consideration to such a measure is Tulsa, Oklahoma.

City leaders arrived at this point after witnessing several years of skyrocketing work comp costs and examining the annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) incidence rates, which measure the number of work injuries and illnesses per 100 workers.

In 2010, these OSHA incidence rates were as follows:

  • The national injury average for all employees was 3.8 per 100
  • The national injury average for private sector employees was 3.5 per 100
  • The national injury average for local government workers - including police officers, firefighters, maintenance workers, etc. - was 6.1 per 100

By comparison, Tulsa officials found the following incidence rates in 2010:

  • The injury average for all employees in Tulsa was 25.6 per 100
  • The injury average for police officers was 29 per 100 (two and a half times the national average)
  • The injury average for firefighters was 56 per 100 (four times the national average)

In light of this shocking revelation, Tulsa officials have since requested proposals on how to lower the incidence rates, and are leaning toward retaining the services of a consultant to help implement the necessary measures.

One such measure may be the introduction of fitness/wellness programs - particularly within the police and fire departments.

"There's a link between employee health and workers' compensation," said Vickie Beyer, director of Tulsa's management review office. "If you're overweight, you're more likely to injure yourself. We've found that about 15 percent of our employees are considered normal weight. Another 15 percent are at the top of the range. We didn't have a measurable percentage who are considered underweight."

Many department heads have expressed both shock and dismay over the work injury rates, and pledged to help bring them down.

In the end, taxpayers in the self-insured Oklahoma city may come to appreciate these efforts.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


Tulsa World, "Tulsa's workers-compensation incidents astronomical" Nov. 9, 2011

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