A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky businesses set record low workplace injury rate, focus on creating culture of safety credited

By Alexandria Englen
Special to the NKyTribune

Officials from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet hailed recent reports by the federal government that show continued improvement in workplace safety in Kentucky, including the lowest rate of nonfatal incidents recorded in the Commonwealth’s history.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kentucky’s rate of recordable nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses dropped to 3.4 per 100 full-time employees in 2016 – down from a rate of 3.7 in 2015. This marks the lowest rate since the federal government began collecting this data in 1996, when Kentucky reported an incident of 8.4

In addition, according to BLS data, there were 92 work-related fatalities in Kentucky in 2016, down from the 99 fatalities in 2015. Work injuries involving transportation and material moving occupations accounted for the highest amount of fatalities in both 2015 and 2016.

“I am extremely proud that Kentucky has once again set a historic milestone in workplace safety,” said Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey. “This achievement has only been possible by employers and employees who have embraced a culture of safety in their workplace. They deserve to be congratulated for their commitment, and these reports clearly show that Kentucky is moving in the right direction, but there is still much work to be done. Our mission at the Labor Cabinet is to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place by educating employers and employees about workplace safety so that the 1.9 million men and women working in Kentucky return home each day safe and sound. We will not rest until Kentucky is the safest place to work and live in the country.”

Sec. Ramsey

According to the BLS report, approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported nationally by private industry employers in 2016 – resulting in 48,500 fewer injuries from the prior year. This produced a national injury and illness rate of 2.9.

Kentucky Safe – the Labor Cabinet’s Division of Occupational Safety & Health Education & Training – leads the Cabinet’s proactive efforts to create safe and healthful workplace conditions. This includes providing no-cost consultative services to employers across Kentucky on ways to improve safety conditions in the workplace. Services include free on-site consultations as well as compliance assistance, educational materials, and class-style and online training for all employers.

Last year, the Division conducted 272 consultative surveys identifying and ensuring the abatement of 2,067 serious hazards. Also, 142 training courses were conducted, reaching approximately 4,300 attendees in response to training requests from employers.

Employers who wish to learn more about the consolation and educational services provided by KYSAFE can visit the website here.

“We will not rest until Kentucky is the safest place to work and live in the country,” Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey

Separate and apart from these training and education programs, the OSH Division of Compliance is responsible for the enforcement of safety and health standards. Compliance officers inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and issue citations where violations of standards are found. Inspections may be the result of regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Overall, both the education and enforcement responsibilities of the Cabinet comprise a comprehensive goal to “Plan, Prevent and Protect” Kentucky’s workforce.

Follow the Kentucky Labor Cabinet on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates.

Alexandria Englen is Deputy Communications Director for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet

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