An Advisory Committee created by Governor Deval Patrick to study state work-place risks and dangers, released a landmark report with key recommendations to reduce injury, illness and deaths for state employees. During a State House briefing on March 24, state labor unions, safety advocates and members of the Patrick Administration applauded the work of the Advisory Committee and pledged support for a permanent framework of health and safety protections for state employees.
Rachel Kaprielian, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development
“The Patrick Administration’s goal is to reduce the potential for workplace injuries and illnesses and the associated costs the Commonwealth has to pay to deal with these risks,” said Rachel Kaprielian, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. “Through the work of the Advisory Committee, we found that one of the best ways to do that is by ensuring that nationally-recognized worker protection standards become minimum standards of practice for state workers.”
Mark DelloRusso, president of SEIU Local 888
“Local 888 members who are state employees work every day to provide quality services at the Soldiers’ homes, on our highways, in higher education, and many other jobs,” said Mark DelloRusso, president of SEIU Local 888. “Yet, these dedicated workers do not have the equivalent job safety protections as private workers.”
Major findings of the new report include:
- Between FY’10 and FY’12, 3,000 state workers experienced job related injuries series enough to require time off from work and four workers lost their lives. The hazards causing the greatest number of these injuries included violent assaults, falls from heights, and lifting injuries.
- The top three contributors to lost time claims, consistent with the significant level of hazard associated with jobs workers perform were:
- Health and human service workers are at high risk for assaults by patients/clients and for ergonomic injuries from lifting/moving patients or clients.
- Correction officers are also at high risk of assault by inmates.
- MassDOT employees and state police officers are at high risk of being struck by motor vehicles while working on roadways.
- Maintenance personnel and equipment operators at MassDOT have many serious risks including electrocution, falls from heights and usage of heavy equipment.
Among the most significant recommendations in the report is the creation of an OSHA-type program of training and technical assistance enforcement for state government using federal standards and making permanent the work of agency health and safety coordinators and committees. Representative Thomas P. Conroy, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development has filed legislation that would codify many of the recommendations in the report.
Representative Thomas Conroy, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
“Protecting the health and safety of our public employees is a top priority for me,” said Rep Conroy. “I am proud to support the efforts of Governor Patrick, the state’s labor unions, and safety advocacy groups, and I will work hard to ensure this important piece of legislation is signed into law soon.” The Committee passed the bill in March and it has moved for consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health pictured with a copy of the Advisory Committee’s new report
“The Governor’s Advisory Committee was a groundbreaking first step to identify the serious hazards that state employees face and documenting the safety measures needed to address them,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and a member of the Advisory Committee. “Through legislation, we can make sure that these safety measures are institutionalized across state agencies to prevent needless injuries, illness and death.”
Members interested in getting a copy of the 51 page report, “State Employee Health and Safety Achievements and Recommendations,” should email email@example.com or call 617-241-3300.