Workplace safety improves while citations increase

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Dec. 1, 2006

A recent report from the Division of Labor Statistics Research (DLSR), an arm of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), states that California experienced 629,900 workplace injuries and illnesses in 2005.  This rate of 5.1 injuries per 100 employees is down from 5.4 in 2004.

The Manufacturing industry saw a 4 percent decrease in its rate of injuries and illnesses in 2005 despite a 1 percent increase in employment over 2004.  The industry as a whole had a total of 72,100 injuries, or a rate of 4.8 per 100 employees.  The manufacturing rate of injury is below the statewide average for all industries.

The decrease in the rate of injuries is only half of the story. We are also seeing increased enforcement from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition in the first quarter of 2006.  The number of onsite inspections rose 13% in the first three months of this year.

The manufacturing industry, despite its reduction in workplace injuries and illnesses, had the highest number of violations of any sector, and the second highest number of onsite inspections.  The 375 inspections yielded a total of 1588 alleged violations, a 32 percent increase over the first quarter of 2005.

It is difficult to reconcile an increase in inspections and citations following a year when fewer injuries have occurred.  One explanation for this is that there are more rules for DOSH to enforce every year. We have seen an explosion in new regulations.

The declining injury rate shows that employers are working hard to improve safety at company facilities. It also indicates that effective enforcement of existing regulations, and not adding more regulation, can bring the injury rate down even further. We encourage DOSH to work with employers to achieve our mutual goal to achieve safer workplaces in California.


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