Workplace Fatalities Reach Record Low

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A silver lining in the unemployment cloud: Workplace fatalities have declined during the recession.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace fatalities were down 17 percent in 2009, compared with 2008. The 4,340 fatal workplace injuries reported for ’09 is the lowest number on record since the BLS started keeping track in 1992.

While a large part of that has to do with the fact that there were fewer jobs in general, the BLS reported that injuries per 100,000 workers declined from 3.7 in 2008, to 3.3 in 2009.  Bloomberg also reported that, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, workplace injuries have been on the decline for 10 years, reflecting an overall trend toward safer workplaces.

Transportation accidents, which account for almost two-fifths of fatal workplace injuries declined by 21 percent in 2009; an overall loss of jobs in the construction industry played a large part in the decline.

“A single worker hurt or killed on the job is one too many,” Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said in a statement. “While a decrease in the number of fatal work injuries is encouraging, we cannot and will not relent from our continued strong enforcement of workplace safety laws. As the economy regains strength and more people re-enter the workforce, the Department of Labor will remain vigilant to ensure America’s workers are kept safe while they earn a paycheck.”

Here are a few tips for staying safe on the  job:

1. Pay attention to overtime hours: Staying late is bad for your health in more ways than one.  One recent study reported that employees who work more than 10 hours per day are 60 percent more likely to develop heart disease than people who work fewer hours.  A long day also makes your commute more hazardous. You’re more likely to get in an accident when you’re tired — in fact, research has shown that drowsy drivers are seven times more likely to crash than drivers who are well-rested.

2.  Talk to your boss if your job is taking a physical toll on you: Jobs that are physically demanding may start to wear on workers after a while, especially those that involve repetitive motion, awkward body positioning or heavy lifting.  Companies are required by law to provide workers with a safe work environment, and your boss can help you figure out a safer or more comfortable situation.

3. The same goes for workplace injuries: If you are injured on the job, speak up. Your company will either have to provide you with time off to recuperate or with a new set of job duties that will not exacerbate the injury.

4. Take breaks: If your job is physically demanding or requires you to operate heavy machinery, working while tired can pose safety risks. Like driving while tired, doing physically demanding work, such as construction, maintenance or manufacturing, can be seriously dangerous to tired workers. Take short, frequent breaks to keep your attention levels high and your drowsiness levels low.

For more on workplace issues, see:

Caution: Toxic Co-Workers Ahead

A Trying Economy Means Healthier Habits For Some Workers

Weight Gain at Work

39 Comments
        • How can the Republicans be responsible when the Dems have the majority in both the House and Senate. Dems can’t get their own people to agree to pass anything. Quit blaming everyone else for what you cannot accomplish even with a majority.

    • Bush had little if anything to do with it. The jobs are gone thanks to the banks, Wall Street, and the false bubble created during the Clinton administration.

    • The kinds of jobs remaining and being created in today’s economy are not jobs that have high rates of fatal accidents: Dishwashing, room cleaning, fast food service work, grass cutting and leaf blowing, street corner begging, and such seasonal jobs as bell ringers at Christmas time, and collecting welfare and food stamps.
      Community organizing was never high risk work.

    • The kinds of jobs remaining and being created in today’s economy are not jobs that have high rates of fatal accidents: Dishwashing, room cleaning, fast food service work, grass cutting and leaf blowing, street corner begging, and such seasonal jobs as bell ringers at Christmas time, and collecting welfare and food stamps.
      Community organizing was never high risk work.

    • I had a job when Bush was pres and as of next month I DON”T. Yeah, the economy is getting better all the time. WHERE???? Somebody tell me WHERE???? The OBAMAS go on some type of vacation every month and my family struggles to eat! Where is the economy better???

  1. It seems that employers and employees are very cognizant about safety at work. Whether it is because of potential lawsuits or trying to make a better work environment, it is good to see less fatalities at work.

    • Finally an article that correctly states how workplace safety has improved. It took the workplace fatalities category to make the point aparently. Every other category used to monitor workplace safety progress has also shown improvement except the published reasons for these improvements are incorrectly attributed to companies under reporting and harrassing doctors. What a shame.
      The collaborative efforts of previoius OSHA administraiton and private business and its workers obtained this improvement. That era has come to a swift end. All we see from OSHA driven media today is centered on fines and is gone back to promoting an attack on industry.
      Credit workers and business still left in the U.S.for their efforts and undisputed progress.

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  13. How does this story has anything to do with a SILVER LINING in unemployment? Less accidents means less people working, check the previous years of labor statistics of employment vice unemployment, so the point of the story is President Obama is lowering industrial accidents? Ha, Ha, Ha!!! Mid-Term Elections are going to show just how popular LIBERAL DEMOCRATS!

  14. Lean manegment and work smarter not harder. people don’t report when they get bonuses for injuries.I see it alot but they do work safer. just don’t report the small injuries.

    • Why is this old news being posted again? Anyone notice this was news from August, you know by looking at that first comment? this WAS reported over 2 months ago as I remember reading it then. Are the reporters running out of hysterics stories? LOL

  15. I have a heel spur that developed due to more walking that is recently required at work then from the time I first started almost 5 years ago. Now I need time off and because of the dates I need off for personal reasons I was denied I need time to heal my heel spur. What can I do? Any suggestions?

    Help!

  16. Fewer fatalities on the job.
    Fewer employees have jobs.
    Fewer jobs.
    FEWER JOBS = FEWER EMPLOYEES = FEWER FATALITIES
    Wow! I must be a genius to figure out that.

  17. Hi unemployment rate = low “On the job ” rate wonder where Your tax dollars are being spent? Bet there are more at home injuries Now (Send Me A check)

  18. I found that More Fatalities are happen9ing out side the workplace (Send me a Check)(Or hire Me) Also found out If you are a victim of a live birth You are going to die No mater what you do or eat or live You are going to die Living a Healthy lifestyle Just takes longer(Someone in govt send me a check I just saved a few millions in TAX grants)

  19. That just goes to prove that the unemployment rate is high! have to have jobs before you get hurt in the work place.DAAAAAA,who right this stuff and what kinda of artical is this? redonent it ansewrs it self

  20. Yes, there are less people working. But the injury rate (which compares apples to apples) is dropping as well. This has less to do with OSHA’s new enforcement, than companies doing the right things. Even at a time when companies are trying to cut dollars, safety is still important to US Companies. OSHA should work more on helping companies through their STAR Program instead of through fines. It has been proven to work. But there is no money in that. To this administration, it’s the company’s fault no matter what…and they should pay. Eventually, companies will get sick of it and go somewhere else. I already know a couple that have.

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