Missouri Records Failing Grade In Workplace Safety: What Are Employers Getting Wrong? 

In the National Safety Council’s recent report, Missouri ranked last in three areas: home and community safety, road safety, and workplace safety. The state was one of 26 states that did not earn a passing grade in workplace practices, as judged by the National Safety Council.

Businesses in the state have been in the press over the years for its incidences of worker accidents and lack of safety precautions in the workplace. In 2015, Hussanman’s Corp was found guilty of safety violations by OSHA that resulted in an employee’s death and a $272,250 penalty. Another incident occurred in 2017 when Arrow Plumbing LLC was found guilty of providing inadequate safeguards and employee training. Although there have been programs like Brentwood police’s workplace violence prevention training can be seen as successful attempts to improve the state’s workplace safety awareness ranking, there remains a lot of ground to cover when it comes to workplace safety standards.

Safety And Health Training In The Workplace Is Not Mandated

Unlike other states like California, Missouri does not currently have an occupational health and safety regulatory program. For employers, this means that health and safety training is not required in most industries. However, while the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 does not address the responsibility of employers in providing health and safety training to employees there are voluntary workplace safety guidelines developed by OSHA in place, which are heavily recommended and aimed at minimizing the risks presented in workplaces.

Choosing to implement a regular and well-designed workplace safety training program can provide multiple benefits to employers beyond the reduction of risks. Businesses that implement workplace safety and health training programs can enjoy higher workplace productivity, lower insurance premiums, and protection from future liability lawsuits. Estimates by personal injury lawyers in Tampa indicate the calculation of personal injury claims are based on both economic and non-economic damages. This means businesses face the repayment of not only medical bills and missed wages but also compensation related to mental and emotional distress. Also, businesses can benefit from a reduced cost of workplace injuries and employee time off. American businesses pay $62 billion annually for workplace injuries, according to the World Monetary Fund.

Government Employees Are Not Covered By OSHA Compliance Regulations

There also remains a vast gap when it comes to the application of OSHA regulations. Currently, Missouri’s OSHA covers most private-sector employees. Public and government employees are not covered by a federal OSHA plan. Therefore, there is currently no enforcement or regulation governing Missouri’s 145,324 local and 55,890 government employees. The current act sets out 2 important principles that should apply to any workplace, regardless of industry—the adherence of certain workplace safety standards and conducting regular workplace safety checks to identify potential gaps that could prove problematic later on.

While there are free additional resources available to employers in Missouri, these are not highly publicized or offered to new businesses in the private or public domain. Businesses in Missouri can access a free workplace safety and health consultation program which gives them advice on setting workplace safety standards to comply with federal guidelines. The onsite consultation service offered by the DOLIR is restricted to private employers with less than 250 employees. This neglects key public service employees and small business owners across the state.

Missouri Does Not Mandate Health And Wellbeing Protocols In The Workplace

Lastly, the report by the National Safety Council revealed that workplaces in Missouri do not have any federal requirements for health and wellbeing programs workplaces. However, workplaces face reduced productivity by 17.5 percent if they do not contribute to employee wellbeing. Also, work environments that do not support employee wellness see a domino effect on other aspects of employee lives including their mental or emotional health and overall happiness levels.

That being said, there are initiatives available to help businesses develop a workplace wellbeing program. One good example is the WorkWell Missouri Initiative, which has launched the WorkWell Missouri Toolkit and Workplace Wellness Award. Also, the program’s website now includes resources for employers to use in developing their wellness program including a Wellness on a Shoestring guide for cash strapped businesses. However, adherence is again, purely voluntary and with many employers viewing the cost of implementing such programs as a roadblock, the likelihood of this happening continues to be minimal.

It is clear there remains much to be done in the area of workplace safety in Missouri. The gaping holes in the state’s workplace safety regulations and policies continue to present unnecessary and preventable risks to their workers, their families, and the local business economy.

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