Thursday, March 15, 2012

Washington records 51 workplace deaths in 2011 – a historic low

Contributed by Tom Odegaard, Executive Director, Evergreen Safety Council

Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries announced on March 14 that a historic low was reached in 2011 when 51 workers suffered fatal workplace injuries.  This was the lowest in state history. 

In recent years, Washington has averaged between 80 and 90 work-related deaths annually. The previous low was in 2009 when 65 workers died on the job.

The 2011 report, which was compiled by researchers with L & I’s  Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, noted that fewer workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing industries died on the job. There were also fewer incidents involving multiple victims.

Additional information contained in the report revealed:
  • On-the-job motor vehicle accidents were the number one cause of workplace fatalities in 2011 with 19 such deaths (37%), eight of which involved heavy or tractor trailer truck drivers. 
  •  Small businesses with 10 or fewer workers accounted for a third of all workplace fatalities. 
  • The 50-59 age group of workers suffered the most deaths.
  • Fatalities in the construction industry continued to remain low, with six deaths reported in 2011.

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