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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in fatal occupational injuries

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One of the most obvious ways to be injured – anywhere – is to fall. It’s a simple observation that is supported by statistics showing that falls are near the top of lists of nonfatal and fatal injuries that happen in the workplace.

According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries amounted to nearly $62 billion in U.S. workers’ compensation costs in 2013, the most recent year for which the data used in the index were available. The index is compiled by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and uses information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance to find which events caused employees to miss six or more days of work and then ranks those causes by total workers’ compensation costs.

Falls to the same level (16.4%, or $10.16 billion) and falls to a lower level (8.7%, or $5.4 billion) came in second and third, respectively. Taken together, they accounted for over a quarter of the total costs on the most recent index. It’s worth noting that slips or trips that did not result in falls came in seventh place, accounting for $2.35 billion, or 3.8% of the top 10 total that year.

According to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released in September 2015, fatal falls, slips, and trips increased by 10 percent in 2014 from the previous year. Falls to a lower level were up 9 percent to 647 from 595 in 2013, while falls on the same level increased 17 percent, according to the BLS. Overall, fatal work injuries increased by 2 percent in 2014 from the prior year, although the rate of 3.3 per 100,000 full-time workers stayed the same. 

With winter still upon us, here is another statistic to consider: The Accident Fund Insurance Company of America and United Heartland reported recently that almost a third of all Midwestern workers’ compensation claims that included lost time were the result of slips and falls on ice and snow.

According to those insurers, winter-related slip and fall claims doubled from 2013 to 2014.

The top five states were:
1. Indiana (37%)
2. Wisconsin (33%)
3. Michigan (32%)
4. Illinois (32%)
5. Minnesota (29%)

Accidents can and will happen, of course. What is your workplace doing to minimize the risk of them resulting from slips, trips and falls?

Last year was an eventful one for OSHA with respect to its rules for worker safety in the construction industry. A new standard for "construction work" in confined spaces – Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926 of the Code of Federal Regulations – took effect in 2015 after several years in the making. The standard is aimed at preventing construction workers’ injuries or fatalities by either eliminating or isolating hazards in confined spaces at construction sites. It applies to all construction workers who might be exposed to confined space hazards, such as those posed by features ranging from sewers to crawl spaces and from storage bins to trenches – and a host of others where spaces and their entrances are tight.

Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered "confined" because although they might not be designed for extended human occupation, they are still large enough for workers to enter and perform tasks.

The new standard describes the requirements for practices and procedures to protect those involved in construction work at a job site with one or more confined spaces. The previous rules that applied to confined spaces in the construction industry required only that employees be trained to work in them. Since injuries and fatalities continued to occur, OSHA concluded there was more to be done from a regulatory standpoint and so looked at its rules for confined space work in other industries. A proposed rule for construction industry confined spaces was first published in 2007, leading to a final rule issued in May 2015 that became enforceable as of Oct. 2, 2015.The new rule expands on the training component by requiring employers to determine not only the appropriate training for employees, but to determine the kinds of environments they are working in, what hazards might exist there, how those hazards should be made safe, and to establish rescue practices.

Data gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program found that fatal injuries in confined spaces went from a low of 81 in 1998 to a high of 100 in 2000, averaging 92 fatalities per year in a five-year period. OSHA said it estimates the new rule will protect at least 800 construction workers per year from serious injuries and will help cut down on the number of life-threatening hazards they encounter in confined spaces.
Some hazards in confined spaces may be obvious and easily identified. Others, such as many atmospheric hazards, may not.

Since confined spaces often have little natural ventilation, they can harbor air contaminants that compromise the body's ability to transport or use oxygen and/or have direct toxicological effects. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulfide (sewer gas) can exist in a confined space due to production processes, through the natural breakdown of a substance, and/or from work activities such as welding or torch cutting performed in the space – processes that can also lead to oxygen depletion. Fortunately, such hazards can be avoided if identified and addressed before work is undertaken. Multi-gas monitoring is a practice commonly used in most confined spaces to measure levels of oxygen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide as well as combustible gas concentrations before entry is allowed.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices. Whether your work environment is predominately indoors or outdoors, our consultants can determine your business's air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air assessments.

With our experience in assessing thousands of confined spaces in a wide range of industries, Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help your organization attain a “best practice” level of compliance. Give us a call or visit our website today to learn more.

Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries showed fatal work injuries increased by 2 percent in 2014 from the prior year, although the rate of 3.3 per 100,000 full-time workers stayed the same.

The preliminary total in 2014 was 4,679 fatal work injuries.

"Far too many people are still killed on the job – 13 workers every day taken from their families tragically and unnecessarily. These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires," U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement.

Fatal falls, slips, and trips rose by 10 percent in 2014 from the previous year. Falls to lower level were up 9 percent to 647 from 595 in 2013, while falls on the same level increased 17 percent, according to BLS. And fatal work injuries due to transportation incidents rose slightly to 1,891 from 1,865 in 2013, with transportation incidents accounting for 40 percent of fatal workplace injuries in 2014.

Fatal work injuries due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals were lower in 2014, with 749 deaths in 2014 compared to 773 in 2013.

 

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