NYCOSH Sues City for Injury Data on Behalf of Workers
Today's theme must be civil justice for workers rights. NYCOSH has to sue the city just to get access to the information that will help workers preserve their rights. NYCOSH's membership consists of just the people whose work and rights tort deformers want to step on: more than 250 union organizations, union members, health and safety activists, injured workers, healthcare workers, attorneys (haha-this should be at the front of the list), public health advocates, environmentalists and concerned citizens. Maybe that's why they have to fight tooth and nail, through the civil justice system, just to get important information about workplace injuries.
The following comes courtesy of NYCOSH (a non-profit provider of occupational safety and health training, advocacy and information to workers and unions throughout the New York metropolitan area):
NYCOSH is taking Mayor Bloomberg to court to force the release of data relating to the workers’ compensation claims of New York City employees requested under New York State’s Freedom of Information Law. The mayor's office and the Corporation counsel have refused to comply with FOIL requests for the data information which could be used to create better city worker safety programs and help reduce workplace injuries.
"I'm completely puzzled by the city's stonewalling here, particularly in an administration that is run by a very successful businessman," said NYCOSH Executive Director Joel Shufro. "There are major corporations that are using the same statistics the city won't release to create worker safety and health programs that reduce workplace injuries and illness and save the companies millions of dollars.”
NYCOSH counsel Cary Kane filed suit in New York State Supreme Court on October 4 seeking a court order to require the city to release data about claims filed by city employees. The city is required to record and prepare an annual report under Local Law 41 of 2004. The law requires that all city agencies forward worker injury data to the Mayor. The Mayor produces the city's annual report using some of the information. The information requested by NYCOSH was not included in the city's 2006 annual report.
NYCOSH requested that the City provide data detailing the injured worker's job title, the nature of the reported injury, and the amount of time off of work missed by a worker due to an illness or injury.
"It's data that provides the basis for determining how to target resources to reduce workers injuries and illnesses. It would allow NYCOSH and the unions who represent the workers in the affected job titles to do a better job in developing programs to eliminate hazards in job titles and agencies with high injury and illness rates,” Shufro said.
NYCOSH has been a long-time advocate of improved documentation of workplace injuries. “Documentation is the key,” said Shufro, “Our knowledge of occupational illnesses and injuries is very limited because data collection is so poor and studies have shown that up to two-thirds of workplace injuries are not reported.”