Last year, 127 Ohio workers lost their lives in workplace accidents
. These were hardworking people who lost their lives in accident that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers avoidable. Union members gathered last month on April 28th, which is now Workers Memorial Day, to honor them.
April 28th marks the anniversary for which OSHA was created in 1971 to require employers to provide and maintain a safe work environment. Since then, workplace accidents and deaths have drastically decreased and OSHA’s standards continue to become less tolerant towards health and safety violations.
Despite the Progress, There are Still Too Many Workplace Fatalities in the U.S.
Though much progress has been made since 1971 in the way of workplace safety, 4,821 workers still died in 2014, according to federal labor statistics and data from OSHA. These figures were actually increased from 2013, where the fatal injury rate was 3.3. for every 100,00 workers rather than 2014’s fatal injury rate of 3.4 for every 100,000 workers.
These reports also show Latino workers have the highest risk for workplace fatality. In 2014, more than 800 Latino workplace deaths were reported, 64 percent of which were immigrant deaths. Older workers are at higher risk, as well.
As we discussed in a previous blog detailing a workplace death at the Ohio Honda R&D Americas plant in Raymond, Ohio, many contract workers are older. Due to lower pay, higher turnover and lack of pension or retirement plans, older workers are forced to push back retirement and continue working, which may put them at higher risk for injury. According to federal labor statistics, 1,691 percent of the total U.S. worker deaths were fatalities involving workers older than 55. That makes up for 35 percent of all workplace deaths.
Workplace violence is also on the rise and causes workplace fatalities. In 2014, 756 deaths were caused by workplace violence and that number is expected to increase in reports from 2015. Reports indicate the leading cause of workplace fatalities cause by violence is caused by supervising sales workers, followed by commercial vehicle operators as the second leading cause and law enforcement as the third leading cause.
Employers Need to Make More Changes in Order to Reduce Workplace Deaths
According to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the Alcoa Foundation, American employers need to adjust how they view workplace safety. While reducing the number of frequently occurring workplace injuries is certainly a good goal to have, it will not necessarily prevent fatal injuries. To prevent workplace fatalities, research shows companies need better leadership, safety management systems and lower turnover rates. The research also shows that having a lower employee to employer ratio would help supervisors oversee fewer employees and help better guarantee safety standards are complied with.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC is a workers’ compensation firm that helps victims who have sustained on-the-job injuries.