Louisiana is a Leader in Workplace Safety

Louisiana employers take workplace safety and health very seriously.
Workplace safety is no party in Louisiana where employers have to
stay focused on loss prevention due to the high severity types of operations such
as; fabrication yards, oilfield operations, trucking and the maritime industry.
Two recent articles give evidence to these statements. In the March issue of The
Agents Voice, published by the Professional Insurance Agents, the President of the
Louisiana Business and Trade Association, Dan Juneau, points to NCCI statistics.
NCCI is the National Council on Compensation Insurance and is the governing
body of the workers’ compensation insurance industry. The data Juneau mentions
is that there was a steady decline in the frequency of Lost Time claims, for every
million dollars of premium, from 1990 to 1995 with a leveling off of the decline
from 96-97. A Lost Time claim is when an injured worker will miss over seven
calendar days due to the injury. Lost time claims are the most costly because it
involves the payment of wages to the worker to make up for the money he cannot
earn due to the injury. Juneau goes on to say, “compared to our Southern
neighbors, our workers’ compensation claim frequency per 100,000 workers’ is
very low. Frequency measures how often a claim occurs against a set factor –
100,000 workers in this case. The article then mentions that due to past pricing
competition, work comp carriers will want more money for workplace risk.
Therefore, employers need to remain diligent in the war on workplace injuries as
losses drive up premium cost.
The second indication of the safety performance in Louisiana can be found in the
public sector. In the free, monthly magazine titled Occupational Health and
Safety, the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development is credited
with being leaders in the implementation of a new safety standard. The American
National Standards Institute (ANSI) recommends voluntary criteria for high
visibility apparel. When ANSI establishes an authoritative guideline, as they have
done here, it is usually a precursor to an OSHA standard, which carries the weight
of law. Fred Rasmussen, the safety administrator for the Louisiana Department of
Transportation & Development is the man that deserves the credit. The articles
states “Rasmussen has placed high importance on obtaining high visibility
garments for his employees.” The article goes on the say “ Thanks to Rasmussen’s
efforts Louisiana has became the first state DOT in the nation to purchase safety
vest that comply with ANSI rule 107-1999.”

It continues that Rasmussen understands the need for his workers to be visible at
all times. In spite of a six-month process to finalize bid specs and get necessary
approvals, Rasmussen was successful in implementing the new program.
That decisive leadership is important because two workers a day die in workzone
crashes. *** In Louisiana, 10-motorist die and 500 are injured in workplace
crashes each year. *** Workzone crashes cost tax-payers money in medical cost
and lost wages to injured workers, lost productivity from work stoppage and
traffic flow reduction due to emergency response. With over $200 Billion
allocated by the federal government for roadway construction and improvements
due to the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, (TEA-21),
consideration of the ANSI standard is timely. In 1999, there were 868 workzone
fatalities up from 772 in 1998 and 693 in 1997. **

** Occupational Health & Safety, March issue page # 46
*** Occupational Safety & Health March issue page # 86