State programs Public administration Injury prevention

Auditor finds flaws in program to keep Vermont gov’t workers safe

Montpelier, VT – The Vermont agency tasked with helping to prevent workplace injuries among state government employees often fails to review incidents, and its recommendations go ignored, according to a new report from the Office of the Vermont State Auditor.

The report examined the actions of the Office of State Employee Workers’ Compensation and Injury Prevention from fiscal years 2008 to 2012.

A major finding was that WCP does not meet its mandate to review every reported workplace incident in part because of staffing shortages. WCP currently has two safety coordinators – down from four in 2010 – to handle a total of approximately 1,000 incidents a year. The report noted that a 2003 loss-prevention study recommended a staffing level of eight.

WCP also lacks the authority to make state departments adopt its recommendations, the report notes. Among the departments with the highest claims, fewer than 66 percent implemented WCP’s recommendations to improve safety.

Additionally, because of errors in the categorization of injuries, auditors found WCP’s data to be so unreliable that they could not examine it for trends.

The report recommends adding more safety coordinators, improving recordkeeping and giving WCP the authority to require departments to follow its recommendations.