Survey shows rate of Ohio injuries, illness below national average


By Brandon Klein

bklein@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Fewer workers in Ohio get injured or ill in the workplace compared to the nation, according to a survey released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The survey states, for both public and private employers, that for every 100 full-time workers there were three cases of nonfatal injuries and illness in Ohio compared with the national rate of 3.5 cases in 2013.

“There is nothing more important than getting our workers home safe at the end of each day, and Ohio’s employers are clearly working hard to provide safer workplaces,” Steve Buehrer, CEO of Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, said in a statement.

Ohio also saw a 5 percent drop in total estimated injuries and illnesses with 122,600 recordable cases in 2013 compared with 129,200 cases in 2012.

Newly filed approved claims have declined since March 2011, said Mark Clendenin, a BWC regional business development manager for Northeast Ohio.

“For the first time in many years, claims are below 100,000 [last year],” he said.

Clendenin said the Northeast Ohio region is “very reflective of the state” for the number of claims in workers’ compensation. It’s also a challenge for the BWC, he added.

“We’re business advocates and employee advocates simultaneously,” he said. “It’s a tricky dual responsibility, but we manage to do that.”

Clendenin attributes the decline to the collaborative efforts among employers, workers and the BWC.

In the private sector, the state’s private employers had a lower incidence rate than all neighboring states with 2.9 cases per 100 full-time employees. The health care and social-assistance sector had the highest rate for injuries and illnesses.

There are, however, policies in place for hospitals to identify risk for workers, said John Palmer, director of public affairs and media relations for the Ohio Hospital Association, which represents 220 hospitals.

Agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale trade also had high rates.

Glenn Johnson, United Auto Workers Local 1112 president at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, said there is some general exposure for its workers that operate the machines to produce the Chevrolet Cruze.

“It creates certain elements,” he said, but added that the company and the unions are committed to the workers’ safety.

The plant’s workers produce about 450 vehicles a day and are susceptible to sprains, strains and other nonfatal injuries, Johnson said.

Back injuries were more widespread for both public, and private industries, according to the survey.

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