Monday, May 7, 2012

Public Sector Fatalities in Missouri Now Investigated by the State

Did you know that OSHA does not have jurisdiction over public sector employees in Missouri? This means they do not conduct investigations into public sector workplace fatalities. Public sector fatalities in Missouri have typically only been investigated by insurance companies and attorneys. A recent municipality fatality shed light on the investigation gap. So how has Missouri resolved this problem? 
After the gap was revealed, it was identified that Missouri statute RSMo Section 286.147 empowers the state to perform investigations of all workplace fatalities. In response to this discovery, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) established a public sector fatalities investigations unit.
How it works
DOLIR enforces its statutory authority to investigate public sector fatalities by looking at contributing factors such as machines involved, safety policies, training and maintenance records. Additional information is also obtained by interviewing management and co-workers if necessary. The final DOLIR report may be subpoenaed and forwarded to the Attorney General if an investigation finds gross negligence, criminal neglect or criminal liability.
To reduce duplication, DOLIR does not conduct fatality investigations when another regulatory agency is involved. For example, in the case of work-related vehicle crashes DOLIR will use Missouri State Highway Patrol reports. Private-sector fatalities will be investigated by OSHA and DOLIR will then use OSHA’s report.
Working for a safer tomorrow 
The purpose of the investigations is to find cause, not fault. According to Leon Lawson, Assistant Director, Division of Labor Standards, the investigations are used to correct safety problems and develop information to prevent future fatalities. The investigations are documented and forwarded to the Governor’s office, per statutory requirements. At this time there is no reporting requirement, method or statutory authority for levying fines.
Providing a safe work environment is a way to avoid workplace fatalities and injuries. Employers can start by implementing the following:
  • Provide routine safety training.
  • Develop and enforce formal safety rules including a seat belt policy.
  • Properly maintain vehicles and equipment.  
  • Train employees to do their job correctly and recognize hazards.
  • Provide safety gear including confined space air monitors, trench boxes and                                 lockout-tagout equipment.
Want to get started on building a safety program or just need to refresh some policies? Give Construction Insurance TOGO a call at 800-392-0423 or click here to email us.

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