Concluding our agency spotlight on the National Park Service this month, we will look at common causes injuries of NPS workers.
Of the 133+ federal agencies, the NPS consistently has one of the highest injury/fatality rates among its employees, losing 86 employees (Line of Duty/On Duty) in the last 25 years. From 2005-2010, over 3,800 employees were hurt in a way that caused them to miss at least one day of work. It’s not hard to understand why this is the case. Dangerous wildlife and rough, steep terrain contribute to this being a potentially dangerous agency to work for.
Section 184.108.40.206 of the 2006 NPS management policy states “the safety and health of employees, contractors, volunteers, and the public are core service values”. The policy is further defined and requires each NPS employee to:
- Adhere to established occupational safety and health procedures.
- Work collaboratively with supervisors to develop and use Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) or the equivalent for all routine tasks, and help develop and use site-specific safety plans for non-routine, complex, multi-phase jobs.
- Properly use and maintain required clothing and/or personal protective equipment.
- Maintain a level of personal wellness and fitness as needed for assigned work tasks.
- Identify, and where appropriate, correct unsafe conditions and work practices.
- Report unsafe/unhealthful conditions and/or operations to an immediate supervisor or appropriate chain of command.
- Report mishaps, including minor accidents and “near misses” ASAP.
- Participate in establishing a safe working culture, and practice safe work procedures, even when working alone.
We have helped many NPS employees throughout the years with their federal disability retirements.
Student Trainee—Electro Technician
This employee had 3-level spine neck fusion, cervical myelopathy, and had 25 percent whole person impairment. Their position required them to climb towers and stairs and crouch over in tight spaces to repair electrical systems. Due to these injuries, among others, this person was not able to stand or walk over rough terrain for long periods of time, couldn’t lift radio transmitters or electrical equipment, work in remote locations where there was climbing mountainous terrain, or climb radio towers for inspections and repair.
Chief Park Ranger in Oregon
This person suffered from PTSD, depression, and anxiety. They had a hard time detecting real/perceived threats. This job position requires an employee to serve Law Enforcement Commissioned Rangers. Some responsibilities include performing law enforcement duties to ensure protection and safe use of national park resources, assimilation of state laws, conducting investigations, participate, and assist agencies and law enforcement officers, and perform search and rescue missions. This employee was unable to complete these tasks at an acceptable level.