Many Federal Workers at Risk on the Job

April 29, 2002 ( - Federal employees were more likely to die from an on-the-job injury or illness than private-sector workers in super risky industries such as industrial machinery production and poultry slaughtering.

That was the conclusion of a new report from the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a private lobbying group that battles federal government waste, fraud and abuse.

According to the CAGW report, US taxpayers shell out at least $2 billion a year in medical costs and worker compensation costs because of the federal workplace injuries and deaths.

The group estimated indirect costs such as lost productivity and diminished morale as well as other direct expenses could push up that total to as much as $10 billion a year.

Based on data from the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the report found, for example:

  • 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, and
  • the US Postal Service accounts for 28% of the federal government workers covered by the government’s Federal Employment Compensation Act (FECA), but uses up 33% of the $2 billion FECA spends annually to compensate victims and their families for workplace illnesses, injuries, and deaths.

The report cites several private-sector workplace safety “models”, including:

  • DuPont, Wilmington, Delaware, where OSHA injuries and illnesses per 200,000 hours have been almost 1/20 of the manufacturing industry average since 1991.
  • H.J. Heinz Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where the company improved its lost workday case rate by 65% and the total number of workers compensation claims and the total cost of submitted claims by 50% from 1995 to 2000.