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October 25, 1995

Washington's worker injury rates fall in 1994

SEATTLE - Washington workplaces were safer in 1994, continuing a two-year trend, according to numbers announced today by Labor & Industries Director Mark O. Brown.

Brown reported that the 1994 rate of occupational injury and illness dropped significantly, a second straight year of decline.

Brown, speaking to 2,000 safety and health professionals attending the 44th Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Conference at the Seattle Center, Thursday morning will announce that 10.3 of every 100 full-time workers suffered a job-related injury in 1994, down from 11.2 per 100 workers in 1993. In 1992 the rate was 12.

"This is a 14 percent reduction in workplace accidents in the past two years," Brown said. His remarks will be made during his annual "State of Occupational Safety and Health Address" at the conference. "Safer workplaces are a direct result of higher awareness and action by employers, increased worker involvement in safety programs, and greater cooperation between employers and Labor & Industries.

"At L&I," he said, "we continue to shift our focus toward enhanced voluntary compliance through increased consultative services and educational initiatives. We also continue to focus our compliance activities at employers in high-risk industries and others with higher-than-normal workers' compensation claims.

"Together, this balanced approach of consultation and compliance activities is making a positive difference," he added.

Department initiatives designed to reduce fatalities and continue the downward trend in injuries include:

  • Educational workshops - More than 1,000 in the past year.
  • Consultations - More than 1,200 one-on-one safety and health consultations with employers.
  • Voluntary Protection Program - A labor/management program recognizing employers who demonstrate the ability to provide safe and healthful workplaces.
  • Focused inspections - A program developed in cooperation with union leadership where L&I inspectors visit qualified construction employers, looking only at hazards that cause the most injuries.
  • Penalty reform - Monies from penalties are used in innovative ways to help an industry prevent accidents.

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