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Examining 25 Years of Worker Injury, Illness, and Fatality Case Data Part 1

In 1972, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began collecting valuable data on work-related injuries, fatal injuries, and illnesses. A 25-year report of these findings was recently published to help inform contractors about the history of worker safety and provide a blueprint for workplace safety moving forward. Although worker safety has steadily increased over the years, to eliminate workplace injuries and fatalities altogether, contractors have to keep pushing the envelope.

Safety is a constant concern in the construction industry. To achieve great building feats, workers are put in perilous positions where a small degree of error can have fatal consequences. This problem represents one of the greatest burdens on a contractor. Contractors must provide their employees with the right tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task at hand, but that’s only scratching the surface..

In addition to continuous and comprehensive employee training procedures, preventive measures, like consulting an OSHA attorney to do a walkthrough of your project site, can help you avoid a costly citation. In this three-part article, the OSHA defense attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will cover OSHA’s case data covering 25 years of work-related injuries, fatal injuries, and illnesses.

Improved Safety Means Less Fatal Injuries in the Workplace

OSHA recorded 139,151 work-related fatalities in the United States between 1992 and 2016. Of this total, 6,217 fatalities occurred in 1992 and 5,190 in 2016. Therefore, during this timespan, the number of work-related fatalities decreased approximately 17 percent, which is good news for contractors. However, this decrease wasn’t necessarily a consistent trend. The least number of occupational fatalities over this timespan was in 2009 (4,551 fatalities), not 2016. 1994 had the most fatalities with 6,632. In the final year of this case data, OSHA recorded an estimated 14 deaths per day, which equates to a worker dying from a work-related injury every 102 minutes. It’s clear that the success we’ve achieved in securing the workplace against fatalities is only the beginning.

Self-Employed Workers are More Vulnerable

Compared to wage and salary workers, the rate of fatal work-related injuries for self-employed workers was over four times greater. In 2016, OSHA recorded 13.1 fatalities per 100,000 self-employed workers compared to only 3.0 fatalities per 100,000 wage and salary workers. What is the reason for this stark disparity? More than likely a combination of a lack of training and team cohesion.

The Aftereffects of Nonfatal Injuries or Illnesses

In 2016, roughly 1.5 million nonfatal injuries or illnesses resulted in workers having to miss days at work or alter their work-related duties to account for their condition. While this is a sharp decrease from the figures in 1992, which recorded just under 3 million such cases, it’s still a significant figure that illustrates our need for improved workplace safety. Injuries and illnesses that cause workers to miss days at work or change duties accounted for nearly half of all nonfatal injuries in 2016. And although the overall statistics are trending downward, the proportion of nonfatal injuries that require workers to change their duties has increased.

To learn more about these important case studies, read parts two and three.

If you would like to speak with an OSHA defense attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.