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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ouch

Thanks to the legal effort of the New York Times, we now know which Gainesville businesses have work injury rates that are "considerably greater than the national average."

A federal district court judge in Manhattan ruled two months ago that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must give The Times records detailing the 2002 health and injury rates at 13,000 work sites with above average injury rates.

OSHA had identified almost 13,000 workplaces with the highest occupational injury and illness rates, urging the employers to take action to remove hazards causing the high rates.

Eight Gainesville businesses made the list.
  • Florida Coca-Cola Bottling, Co., 929 E. University Ave.
  • Edencare Senior Living Services Lp, 1415 Fort Clarke Blvd.
  • Shands Teaching Hospital Clinics Inc., 8900 NW 39th Ave.
  • Integrated Health Services, 227 SW 62nd Blvd.
  • Gainesville Health & Rehabilitation, 1311 SW 16th St.
  • Florida Food Service Inc, 5201 NE 40th Terr.
  • Griffis Lumber Inc., 9333 NW 13th St.
  • Pepsi-Cola Metro Bottling Co., Inc., 6335 NW 18th Drive
They made the list because they were identified as workplaces with the highest Days Away from work, Restricted, or Transferred rates, referred to commonly as the DART rate.

For every 100 full-time workers, the 13,000 employers on the list had seven or more injuries or illnesses that resulted in days away from work, restricted work or a job transfer. The national average is 2.8.

When The Times requested this information in 2002, OSHA refused saying it would have to spend too much agency resources to comply with the public records request. OSHA said that the records would include information that could be considered confidential business information, so the agency would have to contact each business and get its permission to release the information.

The judge ruled otherwise, and OSHA released a list of the workplaces, with no specifics on the reasons for being on the list. OSHA’s release also did not rank the companies or distinguish between the worst offenders and those that just barely made the list.

In the letter mailed to the 13,000 workplaces, OSHA wrote: “OSHA recognizes that your elevated DART rate does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health. Whatever the cause, a high rate is costly to your company in both personal and financial terms.”

If any of this is news to you Gainesville folks, it is likely because our local newspaper did not report this story. A search of The Gainesville Sun’s archives as posted on the Internet did not reveal any coverage of the story.

The Sun certainly had every opportunity to report this. The Sun is an adopted child of The New York Times, which owns the company that owns The Sun and a few other mid-size and small town newspapers. Children, as we know, rarely listen to their parents.

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