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2019 Statistics Show Increase in Worker Deaths in US Kathleen Clair, CSP, MS, SMS | Feb 01 2021

Loren & Kean Law is pleased to share the below article written by Kathleen Clair of Health & Safety Consulting Services, LLC with our clients. With OSHA enforcement and fines becoming more prevalent in the construction industry we believe that this is invaluable information for our clients and therefore will share information produced by OSHA experts and consultants through this newsletter.

According to information released by OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics in December 2020, a total of 5,333 workers died as a result of on-the-job injuries in 2019. This was a 1.6% increase from 2018 and the highest number of fatalities in 12 years, when a total of 5,657 work deaths were recorded in 2007.

OSHA’s data showed that the overall rate of fatal workplace injuries remained at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, consistent with the previous 3 years.

The construction industry saw a 6.3% increase in worker deaths totaling 1,066, the highest total since 2007. The industry had nearly 200,000 workplace injuries and 35,000 illnesses. Construction workers are at a much higher risk of death, with a rate of fatal workplace injuries of 9.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Falls continue to be the number one cause of construction worker deaths. Falls were the most common citied OSHA violation in 2019.

Other common causes of construction worker fatalities included struck by (an object), electrocutions, and caught in/between. These, along with falls, make up what OSHA calls the Focus Four or Fatal Four.

Overall, the leading cause of workplace fatalities in all industries were transportation-related, accounting for nearly 40% of all fatal work injuries in 2019. Statistics also showed an increase in slip, trip and fall deaths as well as unintentional overdoses. There was also an increase in deaths of workers 55 and older. And 1 out of 5 workplace fatalities in 2019 were Hispanic or Latino workers.

Also recently released were OSHA’s top 10 most frequently citied standards violated in FY 2019. The list below includes the OSHA regulation number.

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  4. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  5. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  6. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  8. Fall Protection–Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)
  10. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102)

Avoid Becoming a Statistic

There are several steps companies can do to avoid OSHA fines, worker injuries, illnesses and deaths. Development and enforcement of a comprehensive safety program is the key to success. A program should include the following:

  • Develop and maintain written safety programs that cover the hazards to which employees may be exposed. These are required by OSHA and must be reviewed/updated annually.
  • New hire and annual safety training should cover all the risks workers are exposed to on the jobsite. Staff should be aware of the risks associated with their jobs, especially when working at heights, with heavy machinery or in confined spaces and trenches.
  • Conduct regular jobsite inspections to identify hazardous conditions at the worksite. Construction sites require constant monitoring and observations to stay on top of safety issues. Inspections identify hazards and provide opportunities to fix problems before injuries and accidents can occur.
  • Inspect tools and equipment on a regular basis. Construction workers rely on their tools and equipment to get their work done safely. Unsafe tools and equipment can mean higher risk of serious accidents, including the loss of an eye or a limb.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers. Companies must pay for and ensure that workers have the proper PPE, such as fall arrest systems, hard hats, respirators, and hearing protection, to do their jobs safely.

Kathleen Clair is the owner and president of West Palm Beach based Health & Safety Consulting Services, LLC. Ms. Clair has over 25 years of experience in the OSHA compliance with a focus on construction and industrial safety. She is fluent in Spanish, is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), FDOT MOT Instructor, and an Authorized OSHA Instructor (10- & 30-hour Construction and Gen. Industry). For more info. about HSCS, LLC visitwww.hscscompliance.com. Ms. Clair can be reached at kpcconsulting@outlook.com or 561.758.9942.

Sources: OSHA, BLS