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Serious Workplace Safety Question: How Likely Is It I’ll Die At Work?

Julie Copeland

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describe the imageA preliminary total of 4,383 workplace fatalities were recorded in the US in 2012. While this is the lowest count since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) first conducted this study in 1992, there are still far too many fatalities that could have been prevented.

But what does the number 4,383 mean? What do any of these numbers mean in the grand scheme of workplace safety? Where, when and how to do these workplace fatalities occur? Could this data reveal where our focus on safety training and provision of safety equipment should be more keenly directed to save workers lives?

The Matter Of The Private Construction Sector

Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector increased five percent to 775 in 2012 from 738 in 2011.

  • Total hours worked in the private construction industry increased one percent in 2012.
  • The increase in fatal occupational injuries in 2012 follows five consecutive years of declining fatal injury counts in the construction sector.

Since 2011, CFOI has identified whether fatally-injured workers were working as contractors at the time of the fatal accident. In 2012, 708 of the deceased were identified as contractors, many of whom worked in construction and transportation occupations.

Could working overtime be causing contractors to encounter more workplace accidents with fatal results?

The Matter Of The Private Mining Sector

Mining, the backbone of so many industries, is a relatively dangerous industry made up of approximately 400,000 miners and 15,000 mines.

  • Workplace fatalities in the private mining sector rose in 2012, led by an increase in fatal injuries to workers in oil and gas extraction industries.
  • Fatal work injuries in oil and gas extraction industries rose 23 percent to 138 in 2012, reaching a new high for the series.

Miners face constantly changing conditions to their workplace circumstances, from working in an atmosphere without natural light or ventilation to ensuring no immediate reaction results from surrounding strata. To prevent job-related deaths in the mining sector, providing and maintaining ongoing safety training and personal protective gear is critical.

The Matter Of Age And Maturity

Fatal work injuries involving workers less than 16 years of age nearly doubled, rising from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012 – the highest total since 2005.

  • Fatal work injuries in other age groups declined in 2012.
  • Fatal work injuries among workers 55 years of age and older declined for the second straight year. 

Why the major increase in workplace fatalities for workers less than 16 years of age? Lack of maturity? Lack of training and experience? Given responsibilities beyond their capabilities?

If you manage this age group, consider these questions and take a serious look at the work they’re given versus their ability to carry those jobs out safely. 

The Matter Of Suicide And Homicide

Having very little to do with workplace accidents (as they are self-inflicted or inflicted upon another), suicide and violence have held their own in terms of workplace fatality statistics.

  • Work-related suicides declined 10 percent from 2011 totals
  • Workplace violence accounted for about 17 percent of all workplace fatalities in 2012.

The decline in work-related suicides is promising. However, homicide as one of the leading causes of job-related deaths each year is unacceptable. For more on this, please read our blog post about workplace violence.

Data doesn’t lie. If you are an independent contractor or miner, work with people less than 16 years of age or encounter too many incidents of workplace violence, understand that you and your workers face a risk of workplace fatality each and every day.

The good news is that these job-related deaths are preventable with the proper safety training and safety equipment.

Ready to reduce the risk of workplace fatalities in your facility or at your job sites? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with a workplace safety specialist at Arbill.


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