Between July 2002 and November 2011, Oregon state employees account for more than 23,500 workers’ compensation claims costing more than $103 million in payments for missed work, permanent disability, and medical care.

In his article for the Statesman Journal, Dennis Thompson, Jr. reports the reality of the dangers faced by Oregon state workers.  “It’s easy for the public to think of state workers as pencil-pushing bureaucrats,” he stated, “but thousands are injured every year while performing high-risk jobs . . .”

Thompson further reports that the three state employers with the most workers’ compensation claims are: 1) the Oregon Department of Corrections with 3,219 claims, 2) Oregon State Hospital with 2,069 claims, and 3) the Transportation Operations Division with 1,676 claims.  Looking beyond the top three may show some unexpected results.  At fourth and fifth place come Oregon State University with 1,715 workers’ compensation claims and the University of Oregon with 1,480.  Surprisingly, the Oregon State Police filed fewer workers compensation claims than any of these with just 1,147.

Each department has its own unique challenges, some more unexpected than others.  For example, State Hospital employees are more likely to be injured from being struck by someone or something than a State Correction officer.  Whereas the second leading cause of workers compensation claims amongst State Correction employees is exposure to contagious disease.

The Transportation Operations Division’s injuries are what we would expect.  One employee stated that his truck had been hit three times in the last year.  A bit perplexed, he told Thompson, “How do you miss a state-of-the-art emergency vehicle that’s painted white, with lights on it and a giant light board?”

With all this in mind, the safety record for Oregon employees is actually better than the national average.  Oregon employees had 3.2 work injuries per 1000 employees in 2010.  The national average for government employees, however, is 4.6 injuries for every 1000 employees.

Throughout the article, Thompson offers several examples of the variety of injuries suffered by state employees as well as remedies offered by the State and SAIF to minimize future injuries.  Workers compensation claims occupy a lot of resources and costs, but it is a necessary and important benefit to protect employers and employees.  This is especially true in relation to this article as many state employees are exposed to dangerous and physically strenuous activities.

See the full article here.

With all the expected strains, broken bones, and bruises, there is also the occasional unusual claim.  The Statesman Journal published a few such as: Caught foot in blackberry bush, hurt knee, tick bite, inhaled perfume, grass seeds flew into left eye, sneezed causing groin injury, and shocked by copy machine—to name a few.

See the full article here.

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