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Federal agencies urged to cooperate on workplace safety issues

According to a recent report, workers in Missouri and around the country would be better protected against workplace accidents if the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety worked together more closely. The report, which contains the findings of a yearlong study, suggests a more coordinated approach to workplace safety regulations and urges the three federal agencies to share information more freely. The findings were contained in a Jan. 9 press release.

The report states that a change in approach is needed because hazards that were virtually unknown in recent decades are now commonplace. Since the federal agencies charged with protecting American workers have been slow to react to these changes, the study calls on employers and workers to be more vocal when new workplace safety regulations are being discussed.

Accidents and illnesses claim the lives of thousands of American workers each year and drain about $250 million from the nation’s economy. However, the data collected by the three federal agencies behind the report generally deals with the health outcomes of the workers involved rather than the hazardous workplace conditions they were exposed to. Workers may be better served if a greater emphasis was placed on tackling hazardous workplaces, regulating dangerous industries and promoting more effective health and safety training.

The Missouri workers’ compensation program is designed to provide financial assistance to injured employees until they are able to return to their jobs. However, the application process can be confusing and unforgiving to the unprepared. Attorneys who have helped injured workers in the past could provide assistance with the paperwork involved and make sure that applications are properly filed.