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August 26, 2013
Feds announce decline in number of workplace fatalities

Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show a drop in the number of on-the-job deaths in 2012 compared with 2011. Last year, 4,383 workers died from work-related injuries—a rate of 3.2 per 100,000 full-time workers. That’s an improvement from the 2011 rate of 3.5.

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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said he was greatly encouraged by the improvement, even in a growing economy. Perez credits the hard work of employers, unions, health and safety professionals, and OSHA. “Through collaborative education and outreach efforts and effective law enforcement, these numbers indicate that we are absolutely moving in the right direction,” he added.

But much remains to be done. Perez noted that job gains in the oil and gas and construction industries have been accompanied by an increased number of fatalities, which he called “unacceptable.” In the construction industry, for example, fatal injuries increased by 5% from 2011—the first such increase after five consecutive years of declining fatality rates. And in the oil and gas industry, the problem is even more pronounced: fatal injuries rose by 23% when compared to 2011 figures. In an effort to combat these issues, OSHA has launched outreach and educational initiatives, including a campaign to prevent falls in construction. The agency has also scheduled an oil and gas industry voluntary safety stand-down for November 14.

Perez concluded, “No worker should lose their life for a paycheck.”

3 simple steps to prevent fatal falls

OSHA is working to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs. According to the agency, falls can be prevented—and lives saved—through three simple steps.

  • Plan ahead to get the job done safely. Determine in advance what tasks will be involved and what safety equipment may be needed.
  • Provide the right equipment. Employers must provide fall protection, ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear for workers who are six feet or more above lower levels.
  • Train everyone to use the equipment safely. OSHA says falls can be prevented when workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment.
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