The U.S. Department of Labor Blog recently released a resource that encourages the continued discussion of workers’ compensation and safety in the workplace.
This blog post from the Labor Department features a safety-fine map that tracks “the number of workplace health and safety investigations that have led to high fines.” The tracking starts with January of 2015, and the cases are supposed to be updated weekly. All the states, whether administered through OSHA or an OSHA-approved state plan, are included.
I wish they would provide more context as to how $40,000 was considered the “high penalty” starting point, but they have to start somewhere, and it is an easy-to-understand measure of how a state stacks up within this category. You can also get more information on each specific situation by clicking on the inspection number provided.
As of August 2015, Nebraska had two incidents: Affordable Exteriors of Elkhorn (in March) fined $75,240 and MP Global Products of Norfolk (in January) fined $54,000. Iowa had four incidents: Behr of Mason City (in January) fined $57,150; U.S. Postal Service in Des Moines (in March) fined $49,500; United Sugars in Mason City (in April) fined $68,600; and Sunrise Farms in Harris (in May) fined $227,500.
States that surround Iowa and Nebraska had the following numbers so far: Missouri: 13; Kansas: 7; Colorado: 4; Wyoming, 5; South Dakota, 1; Minnesota, 2; Wisconsin, 14; and Illinois: 38.
Since the information is a statistical snapshot at a moment of time, it may seem arbitrary, but it also shows a continued problem with workplace safety. And these were only the businesses in a handful of states that got caught and were imposed fines greater than $40,000. Just think about the challenges that may exist for workers at businesses that don’t get inspected or aren’t on OSHA’s radar until a worker is injured or killed doing their job.
As we come up to Labor Day, members of the firm will continue to advocate for workers and promote discussion of worker safety, OSHA inspections, and holding businesses accountable for injured workers. Have a safe and productive week