N.H. safest state in nation for workers

A new study has ranked New Hampshire as the state having the lowest job-related death rate in the country.
The AFL-CIO’s 2011 report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” found that the Granite State had 0.9 worker fatalities per 100,000 population. In 2009, New Hampshire had 6 reported work-related deaths, based on the most current data available.The next safest state had nearly twice the rate of deaths.Rhode Island, number two in the nation for the fewest job-related fatalities, reported just seven deaths in 2009, but had a fatality rate of 1.4 deaths per 100,000 population.Massachusetts ranked third with 59 deaths, or 1.8 work-related fatalities per 100,000. Connecticut, ranked seventh, had 37 deaths, or a rate of 2.0 per 100,000. Maine came in at 17th in nation, with 16 deaths, or 2.5 per 100,000.Vermont had the highest on-the-job fatality rate in New England with 12 deaths, resulting in a rate of 3.6 deaths per 100,000 population.According to report, in 2009, Montana led the country with the highest rate of worker fatalities, with 50 deaths resulting in a rate of 10.8 deaths per 100,000. Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska followed close behind.Nationally, according to 2009 preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,340 workers were killed on the job, said researchers, “an average of 12 workers every day – and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. More than 4.1 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported.”While the Granite State may have the safest job sites in the country, it was among the states with the most burdened workload for Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections.In a unique statistic, researchers calculated that it would have taken New Hampshire’s eight OSHA inspectors 149 years to inspect each job site once – placing it 43rd in the nation and one of 17 states – including Massachusetts — where it would have taken more than 100 years to make an inspection of job sites.In Connecticut, it would take inspectors 97 years to visit each worksite, Rhode Island, 78 years; Maine, 75 years; and Vermont, 66 years.Oregon’s 86 workplace safety and health inspectors would take 23 years to inspect each workplace once, the quickest timeframe in the country.In Florida, it would take more than 10 times as long – 241 years for OSHA inspectors to reach all job sites, the nation’s highest.Researchers called the number of OSHA inspectors “woefully inadequate.””OSHA plans have a total of 2,218 inspectors (925 federal and 1,293 state inspectors) to inspect the 8 million workplaces under the OSH Act’s jurisdiction,” said the report. “Federal OSHA can inspect workplaces on average once every 129 years; the state OSHA plans can inspect them once every 67 years. The current level of federal and state OSHA inspectors provides one inspector for every 57,984 workers.”While the toll on lives is incalculable, businesses also feel the burden of work-related deaths.Researchers estimated such catastrophes costing businesses as much as $318 billion a year for direct and indirect costs of disabling injuries.The report called for significantly higher OSHA and criminal penalties to further deter lax work rules, an increase in the number of OSHA inspectors, and tougher regulations to strengthen workplace safety.A copy of the report may be downloaded at AFL-CIO.org. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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