Fatalities in the Workplace

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there were 4,405 workplace fatalities in 2013.  That equates out to almost 85 deaths per week or more than 12 per day!  This is a very somber number. 

Although this is a staggering statistic, BLS reports that this is the lowest number of fatalities in a year since they started collecting data in 1992.  Prior to OSHA’s inception in 1970, there were a startling 38 workplace deaths a day. 

Federal OSHA, with their state partners, is a relatively small group.  They only number around 2,200 inspectors.  These 2,200 inspectors are, in part, responsible for the safety and well being of 130 million workers employed at more than 8 million worksites around the country.  That translates to approximately 1 compliance officer for every 59,000 workers.

In a related issue, remember that OSHA has changed the reporting requirements regarding fatalities, hospitalizations, and amputations.  These changes are summarized on the OSHA website

With the few OSHA Compliance Officers, it is clear that they cannot be responsible for every employer’s safety program.  Safety needs to be a top priority at each work location starting from top management and all the way down to the newest employee.  Although OSHA’s role is to assist employers in the prevention of workplace injuries, it is not possible for them to be present with any frequency.  Each employer has to take responsibility for workplace safety in order to reduce the likelihood of any injury or fatality.  For more information on workplace accident/injury trends please visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the OSHA website. Additionally, in the coming months MEMIC will be conducting a webinar entitled Fatalities in the Work Place.  Be on the look out for registration information for this webinar or check out the other safety resources available from the MEMIC website.     

Graph showing number of fatal work injuries decreasing.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014.