Where’s the Concern over Work-Related Deaths?
With the recent release of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary results of the national census of fatal occupational injuries report showing 4,609 people died from on-the-job injuries in the U.S. in 2011, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Richard A. Pollock, CSP, said people should be concerned.
“It is alarming that 13 people a day are dying from work-related injuries. This is a serious problem that we find unacceptable,” Pollock said following the September 20 release of the BLS report. “These incidents can be prevented. We urge all companies and organizations to take measures now to make sure they have developed and implemented management systems of control, which include effective occupational safety and health programs aimed at preventing worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses.
“Effective management systems help identify safety and health issues before they result in injury, and establish prevention strategies that can protect all workers including truck drivers, construction workers, farmers, office workers, loggers, pilots, roofers, ranchers, fishers and more,” Pollock continued. “Remember, these are 4,609 people who left for work in the morning and never returned home to their families. To these families, we offer our condolences.”
The preliminary BLS report for 2011 showed a slight drop in fatalities from 2010, where 4,690 people died from on-the-job injuries in 2010.
Another concern of ASSE is that the top causes of on-the-job fatal injuries continue to be transportation (41 percent) related followed by workplace violence (17 percent); being struck by objects (15 percent); and, falls, slips and trips (14 percent). All areas where ASSE and the ASSE Practice Specialty groups have offered tips and best practices to address these issues all aimed at preventing on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
“If there is a small silver lining in this preliminary report, it is that there has been a drop in construction worker fatalities,” Pollock said. “However, that could be the result of the reduction in construction projects due to the down economy. Another reason for the decline could be the adoption of fall prevention systems, similar to those contained in the new ‘Prevent Construction Falls’ campaign; an education alliance of which ASSE is a participant with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).”
The report noted that of the 780 workers killed as a result of violence, 458 were homicides and 242 were suicides. It said shootings were the most frequent manner of death in both. Guidance on how to help employers address this issue was developed by ASSE members and can be found at www.asse.org/en/index.php/press_releases/asse-offers-workplace-violence-prevention-tips.
“Our members will continue to work with employers and their workers to prevent fatalities, injuries and illnesses,” Pollock said. “Occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals work every day across the U.S. to assure that the more than 300 million workers who go to work each day return home safely.
“The work of SH&E professionals is fundamental to organizational success as we assess business risk, establish prevention strategies, help increase productivity, reduce costs and increase value for all stakeholders. We urge others to recognize and be concerned about the high number of worker fatalities in our country and the resulting impact on families, employers and communities,” Pollock said. “Now is the time to join with ASSE as we work to prevent these devastating incidents.”