IBEW Reports It's Counting Casualties More Accurately
The union, which represents 750,000 active and retired members, reported Director of Safety and Health David Mullen "has been flying blind" until recently.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' director of safety and health, David Mullen, "has been flying blind" until recently, according to a post on IBEW's blog this week. The union represents 750,000 active and retired members in the United States and Canada; Mullen began his job in July 2014 and "found that accidents and fatalities were woefully underreported. Many locals and business managers were not even aware of their constitutional requirements to report serious lost-time accidents and fatalities to the International Office."
"Imagine as a business manager, you were going into contract talks without information about wages and benefits," Mullen said, according to the post. "That's what it's like for me going to [the] Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the American National Standards Institute without accurate accident information."
The post said Mullen has worked with IBEW's Information Technology Department to overhaul the electronic accident reporting system, Form 173, and he is leading webinars teaching business managers and local staff how to use the new system.
He reports that, in 2014, 10 IBEW fatalities were reported to the International Office using Form 173. "I wish that were all we had," he said, "but the number was clearly higher." OSHA estimated the number was 22, and members of IBEW's Construction and Maintenance Department and Safety Caucus estimated 22-38. "We have to do better than that," Mullen said. "Of the nearly 850 IBEW locals, just 125 have used Form 173 to report accidents or fatalities, and only 20 to 25 do so regularly. The new system, accessed from the 'Safety and Health' page of IBEW.org, aims to fix that," it said.
IBEW reports that the new Form 173 takes only a few minutes to complete and, for the first time, can be edited later if new information comes to light. "We hope this will encourage business managers to fill out the form within a few days of the accident instead of waiting for the results of investigations that sometimes take months to complete," Mullen said.