Friday, November 27, 2009

Work-Related Injuries Underreported

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man is concerned about underreported work-related injuries, illnesses, and death statistics. I have been concerned with the accuracy of nationwide workplace data. Also, I am concerned with the compilation and accuracy of all accident data, including both work and non-related accidents and incidents. Needless to say, it is encouraging to see that Congressional action has been taken to get a better understanding of the reporting and underreporting process to achieve a more accurate picture of safety. I have pasted a recent report "Work-Related Injuries Underreported" that appeared in the New York Times on November 17, 2009.

November 17, 2009
Work-Related Injuries Underreported
Employers and workers routinely underreport work-related injuries and illnesses, calling into question the accuracy of nationwide data that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration compiles each year, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.
The report, by the G.A.O., the auditing arm of Congress, said many employers did not report workplace injuries and illnesses for fear of increasing their workers’ compensation costs or hurting their chances of winning contracts.
The report also said workers did not report job-related injuries because they feared being fired or disciplined and worried that their co-workers might lose rewards, like bonuses or steak dinners, as part of safety-based incentive programs.
“The widespread underreporting so clearly documented in this report is undermining the health and safety of American workers,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “If we don’t know the full extent of the workplace hazards workers face, we cannot fully address these risks.”
Mr. Harkin was one of the Congressional leaders who requested the report.
In response to the report, which examined OSHA’s audits from 2005 to 2007, the safety administration said it would adopt the accountability office’s recommendations, which include requiring inspectors to interview employees during all audits to check the accuracy of employer-provided injury data.
The accountability office noted that the rate of workplace injuries — there were 4 million in 2007, including 5,600 fatalities — has declined fairly steadily since 1992, which OSHA attributed to improvements in workplace safety and the decline in the number of manufacturing jobs.
But the G.A.O. report cited several academic studies that found that OSHA data failed to include up to two-thirds of all workplace injuries and illnesses.
The report noted that because of OSHA’s “sole reliance on employer-reported injury and illness data” in one of its major surveys, “some academic studies have reported that the survey may undercount the total number of workplace injuries and illnesses.”
The accountability office also found that more than a third of the occupational health practitioners it surveyed said that employers or workers had pressured them to provide insufficient medical treatment to hide or play down work-related injuries or illnesses.
The safety and health administration requires employers with more than 10 workers to record every work-related injury or illness that results in lost work time or medical treatment other than first aid. Some occupational health practitioners say that to avoid recording an injury, some employers will try to limit treatment for a serious injury to just first aid.
In other cases, the practitioners said, employers might seek alternative diagnoses if the initial diagnosis would result in a recordable injury or illness.
One manager took an injured worker to several medical providers until the manager found one who would certify that treatment required only first aid, thus making it an injury that did not have to be recorded, one practitioner told researchers, according to the report. Many employers fear that reporting numerous injuries will prompt a full-scale OSHA inspection.
The accountability office said that 53 percent of health practitioners had reported experiencing pressure from company officials to play down injuries or illnesses, and that 47 percent had reported experiencing this pressure from workers.
“This report confirms that when it comes to the documenting of workplace injuries, we can’t just take employers at their word,” said Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. “The system, to this point, has been all too easy to game.”
According to the G.A.O. report, 67 percent of the 1,187 occupational health practitioners surveyed had reported observing worker fear of disciplinary action for reporting an injury or illness, and 46 percent said this fear had some impact on the accuracy of employers’ injury and illness records.
One reason workers fail to report injuries, the report said, was that their employers required drug testing after incidents resulting in reported injuries or illnesses, regardless of any evidence of drug use.
The report also questioned employers’ safety incentive programs, which reward workers when their worksites have few recordable injuries or illnesses.
While these programs can promote safe behavior, the report said three-quarters of health practitioners said they believed that workers sometimes avoided reporting work-related injuries and illnesses as a result of these programs because they feared that doing so would cause them or their co-workers to miss the chance of winning prizes.
Correction: November 16, 2009
A previous version of this article gave an incorrect name for the Government Accountability Office.

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man is a yard safety advocate who wants to rescue individuals, families, and institutions from experiencing yard accidents. Furthermore, Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man exists to promote and stimulate safety improvements for all mankind.

Richard T. Mudrinich
Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Gobble Gobble for Yard Safety! Today is Thanksgiving! Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man gives thanks! Thank you for giving!

Thanksgiving is a traditional North American holiday to give thanks at the conclusion of the harvest season. In keeping with the holiday theme of giving thanks, during the socializing or meal, people talk about what they are thankful for or tell about experiences during the past year which have caused them to feel grateful. Families and friends gather for a reunion, a day of thanks, and a festive meal.

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man wants to express his gratitude for the many individuals and families who have expressed concern and support over the years. Thanks for giving! I am grateful for the many people who have reached out to me in support of the Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man yard safety awareness advocacy. Indeed, there is considerable work required to make yard accidents extinct. I have noticed that people fall on the continuum of extremely selfish on one end and extremely generous on the other end. Rescue Rick believes that both extremes are not healthy and could lead to an increased yard accident. Once again, thank you to all of the Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man fans and supporters all over the world. Also, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my passion and artistic expression to heighten yard safety awareness. THANK YOU!

Invite the Lord to your Thanksgiving dinner and thank Him for all the bounty and blessings in your life. While you and your family are enjoying all that Thanksgiving offers, be sure and take a moment to think about everything that you are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Also, please remember to reach out to those individuals and families less fortunate.

Why not start a new tradition in your home of sharing your "thanks" around the dinner table before the BIG MEAL! Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man suggests introducing the Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man Yard Safety Awareness Bib to your Thanksgiving dinner table. Be thankful for all children of God!

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man strives to glorify God by advancing and promoting yard safety awareness. Once again, Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man gives thanks to those who give! Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man desires to give even as a peasant philanthropist!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Richard T. Mudrinich
Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veterans Day

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man observes Veterans Day. I have never served in the military during wartime or peacetime. I am trying to serve America and the world as a yard safety super hero.

Veterans Day is an American holiday for honoring living war veterans. It is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states. The holiday has been observed annually on November 11 - first as Armistice Day, later as Veterans Day. The day has since evolved as a time for honoring living veterans who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime, partially to complement Memorial Day, which primarily honors the dead. There has been some discussion of whether a person's veteran status depends upon his/her retirement or discharge from any of the armed forces. However, the term applies to any that have honorably served their country or that have served in a war zone as directed by their superior officers or as directed by lawful orders given by their country.

Thank you to all those veterans who have served America in the military. Please be a Yard Safety Crusader!

Richard T. Mudrinich
Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man