Workplace Safety in Louisiana Gets Better

There is good news for Louisiana workplace safety. According to a recent press release by the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), in 2013 Louisiana private sector employees experienced the lowest rate of non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses in the past twelve years. Louisiana’s private sector improvement was in line with the national trend towards increased workplace safety and a lower incidence rate, for both private and public employees. Detailed and state-specific data was recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and is available on their website.

Increased Workplace Safety Across Industries

As a result of this increase in workplace safety, Louisiana qualified as the second safest state in the nation, among the 41 states (and the District of Columbia) surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report upon which the LWC’s press release was based. Only the District of Columbia experienced safer rates. The voluntary workplace safety survey found that the national average for non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses was 3.3 incidents per 100 full-time workers, but that Louisiana’s average was only 2.2, which had decreased from 2.3 in the previous year.

Louisiana’s continued decrease in workplace injury did not apply equally to all industries. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation improved the most (2.4 incidents less, per 100 employees, than in 2012), and Utilities also saw a significant decrease in incidents (down 0.9 incidents). Transportation and warehousing (-0.7), Construction (-0.5), Manufacturing (-0.4), and Leisure and Hospitality (-0.3) also saw decreases in workplace injuries. This data demonstrates that while improvements in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation contributed the most to Louisiana’s excellent rating, many industries saw at least some improvement in workplace safety.

Potential Results of Increased Safety

Safer workplaces can mean lower workers’ compensation insurance rates and, potentially, a less contentious claims process. In the past, Louisiana’s nationally low rates of injury and illness led the National Council of Compensation Insurance (NCCI) to recommend a 2.4% reduction in rates in 2015. The Louisiana Department of Insurance, which already reduced rates for 2014 by 5.1% at NCCI’s recommendation, is expected to announce its decision on the recommendation sometime in December.

The LWC concluded its press release by terming Louisiana as “one of the safest states in the nation to work.” These improvements may come as a result of the LWC’s own efforts, as the LWC provides confidential and comprehensive consultation to businesses of all sizes. The LWC’s SHARP program specifically provides tailored worksite safety programs to qualified small businesses. As we noted in a recent post, the LWC recently helped prepare retail employees for Black Friday.

Despite these improvements, the number of workplace injuries remains significant. Given that an estimated 2.1 million civilians are employed in Louisiana, even a 2.2% injury rate per year amounts in a significant number of injuries. Notably, 114 workers died as a result of fatal workplace incidents in 2013.

Under Reporting Is Always a Concern

Any improvement in workplace safety is important. Unfortunately some employers chose not to properly report on the job injuries. As you can see, this can ultimately help keep the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance premiums lower. If you are hurt on the job it is important that you get the treatment and benefits you are entitled to under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. If your job doesn’t report the accident so they can keep their workplace safety record clean for lowered premiums, you may be sold short.

If you are injured at your workplace, you should immediately report the incident to your supervisor and employer and, especially if the claim is contested by your employer, seek the assistance of your experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney.

Sending us information about your potential case does not mean we will automatically represent you – you are telling us about your situation in order for us to evaluate whether we believe you have a case which we may choose to handle on your behalf. We will review your circumstances and let you know as soon as possible whether we can discuss your potential case with you further. The information you give us is confidential and can’t be shared with anyone outside of our office.