Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Official Feels State Mandate Necessary on Safety Training

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Official Feels State Mandate Necessary on Safety Training

Article excerpt

The OklahomaLegislature should look at mandating health and safety training in the school curriculum to educate the state's future workforce, in the opinion of the director of the Oklahoma Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

About 65 percent of job-related fatalities in Oklahoma have occurred due to a phenomenon known as "new worker syndrome," William White testified Monday before the Interim Business and Labor Relations Committee of the Oklahoma House of Representataives.

"This is not just the 19 or 20-year-old kid who is on his first job," White said in describing the individuals who fall under this category, "but the 50-year-old worker who, because of the present state of the economy, has to go from one job to a brand new job."

Oklahoma's job fatality rate due to new worker syndrome was pretty much in line with the national average, which is between 50 percent and 70 percent, White stated.

The industry and labor relations committee is studying the relation between work place safety in Oklahoma and the cost of workers' compensation insurance.

While general statements have been made in previous committee meetings that Oklahoma has a high number of job-related accidents and injuries, White told reporters after his testimony he has not seen anything that reveals job sites in Oklahoma are more unsafe than those in other states.

"I haven't seen anything that would support that," he stated.

The number of accidents and fatalities in the state have been going down in recent years basically because of the decline in the oil and gas and construction industries.

White said during peak years of Oklahoma's oil and gas business there would be an average of about 100 to 150 fatalities a year due to that industry alone, but for the federal fiscal year which ended Sept. 30 there were only about 50 oil and gas-related fatalities.

Construction, he said, was the most hazardous profession in the state, due more to the nature of the work than to any laxness on the part of construction firms. …

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