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Working around the Metro trains, buses, tracks and repair garages exposes workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia to significant risks of injury. News reports this month indicate that the DC area’s Metropolitan transportation workers are getting hurt on the job more often than their counterparts at other transit agencies. The high prevalence of injuries among workers is costing the Metro millions each year.

The statistics regarding on the job accidents at Metro are revealing. While some of the job tasks are more dangerous than others, part of the problem is the frequency of the injuries. In 2010, Metro averaged 6.17 injuries per 200,000 hours of work, which is above the national transit industry standard of 5.0 injuries. But some areas of Metro have four times the national rate. In an effort to reduce worker’s compensation claims and the related costs to the transit system, Metro has focused on preventing injuries. One of the strategies to reduce DC, Virginia and Maryland comp claims is by improving adherence to safe work practices. Metro has been paying out money to help keep the larger cost of an injury from rising. Metro has two safety recognition programs, awarding workers for going 200 days accident-free and for being "champions of safety." In the past fiscal year, Metro’s transportation safety worker safety programs awarded 815 cash awards, ranging from about $50 to $2,000. It has awarded 617 workers this budget year. The DC train, bus and transit system has also been identifying workers who can perform other work even while injured, assigning them to "light duty" tasks. But Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 President Jackie Jeter said there aren’t enough of those jobs to go around. Getting an injured worker back "on the job" in a light or modified duty position is often a "win-win" situation, as it returns to the employer an experienced, trusted and loyal employee, and gets the employee back on the payroll, with the attendant deductions for retirement, insurance, Social Security Disability, etc. Read more.

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