NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bureaucrats Endangered By Poor Federal Workplace Safety

May 1, 2002

Employees of federal agencies are at greater risk to die from an occupational injury or illness than workers in "high risk" private industries, including manufacturing, poultry slaughtering and processing, industrial machinery and equipment production, says Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

The CAGW found that federal workplace injuries and deaths cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2 billion a year in medical and compensation costs alone. Numerous direct and indirect economic costs, including lost productivity and diminished worker morale, can increase that total to as much as $10 billion a year.

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the report found:

  • The occupational injury rate for the Government Printing Office was four times higher than the commercial printing trade services industry in both 1999 and 2000.
  • The U.S. Postal Service accounts for 28 percent of the federal government workers covered by the government's Federal Employment Compensation Act (FECA), but represents 33 percent --$666 million -- of the $2 billion FECA spends annually to compensate victims and their families for workplace illnesses, injuries, and deaths.

Meanwhile, the private sector has been successful in reducing workplace injuries to record lows. For example:

  • OSHA recordable injuries and illnesses per 200,000 hours worked at DuPont (Wilmington, Del.) have been almost one-twentieth of the entire manufacturing industry average since 1991.
  • H.J. Heinz Company (Pittsburgh, Pa.) improved its lost workday case rate by 65 percent and the total number of workers compensation claims and the total cost of claims submitted by 50 percent from 1995 to 2000.
  • During the same period, Ryder (Miami, Fla.) decreased the bodily injury physical damage claims from 4.71 to 3.55 per million miles driven and workers' compensation expenses per employee from $148 to $104.

Source: John E. Frydenlund (CAGW Senior Fellow), "Through the Looking Glass: Workplace Safety in the Federal Government: Record of Failure, Legacy of Waste," April 29, 2002, Citizens Against Government Waste.


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