State Announces Increase in Workplace Deaths

March 13, 2017

Sixty-one people died on the job in Oregon during 2016, according to a preliminary report issued by the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). That’s up from 2015’s figure of 41 deaths.

The numbers are based on a new data collection program, begun in 2015, that is designed to provide a more comprehensive review of workplace deaths. Previously released figures included deaths only covered by the Oregon workers’ compensation system. The new Workplace Fatalities in Oregon (WFO) program tracks on-the-job deaths, regardless of workers’ compensation status. As a result, the program now also includes workplace deaths involving self-employed people, city of Portland police and fire employees, federal employees, and incidents occurring in Oregon to workers with out-of-state employers.

Whether the numbers go up or down, DCBS is always cautious about drawing conclusions based on single-year comparisons of fatality data, which can be affected by a number of factors and may not represent a trend. The WFO numbers are preliminary and will be finalized later this year.

“While Oregon workplaces are safer today than in previous decades, there are still far too many preventable on-the-job deaths each year,” said Michael Wood, administrator for the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Oregon OSHA). “A dramatic increase such as we saw last year helps to drive that lesson home. And it certainly serves as a reminder that we must do more in our struggle against death in the workplace.”

In addition to its workplace health and safety enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers educational workshops, consultation services, and training videos to help Oregon employers create or improve their safety and health programs. To learn more, visit the Oregon OSHA website.

Because the WFO program started in 2015, comprehensive data—including total workplace deaths and numbers specific to industry, occupation, and injury—are available only for 2015 and 2016. Based on WFO guidelines, however, total workplace deaths were estimated for 2012 through 2014. Total fatality counts in 2012, 2013, and 2014 were 40, 49, and 63, respectively, meaning that 2015 was one of the lowest totals in recent years and 2016 was one of the highest. Averaged over five years, there were approximately 51 on-the-job deaths annually.

Other highlights of the WFO report include:

  • Nearly half (29) of all 61 workplace deaths in 2016 were due to motor vehicle accidents, while 28% (17) of workers died due to contact with objects.
  • The agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry had the most workplace fatalities (24) in 2016—nearly double 2015’s figure of 13.
  • Twenty-eight of the 61 workplace deaths were accepted compensable fatalities.
  • There were three events in 2016 that lead to multiple deaths:
    • Three fishermen died when their boat sank.
    • Two sales associates were killed in a head-on collision.
    • Two construction workers were killed in a motor vehicle accident.

The WFO program excludes deaths in the workplace that are not directly linked to a work activity or harmful work exposure, such as suicides.

Recovery Workers, Employers, and Public Urged to Safeguard Against Hazards in Storm Cleanup

As residents recover from the damage caused by the recent tornadoes and severe storms in Missouri and Kansas, OSHA urges recovery workers, employers and the public to use caution during cleanup and recovery efforts. The agency urges all to be aware of hazards they may encounter, and steps needed to stay safe and healthy.

OSHA resource officers are available in hard-hit areas to communicate with emergency responders in local communities, provide advice and distribute literature to assist in a safe cleanup of damage caused by recent storms in Oak Grove, Smithville, Carrollton and Mercer County, Missouri, as well as Olathe, Kansas.

"Recovery work should not put you in the recovery room," said Karena Lorek, OSHA's area director in Kansas City. "Our main concern is the safety and health of the workers and volunteers conducting cleanup activities. Everyone should use personal protective equipment and implement safe work practices to protect themselves from hazards such as electrocution, struck-by, caught-in and other hazards. By utilizing protective measures employees and volunteers provide valuable assistance to those in need and return home safe and healthy to their families at the end of the day."

Protective measures should involve:

  • Evaluating work areas for all hazards
  • Monitoring task-specific hazard exposure
  • Using engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards
  • Having and using personal protective equipment
  • Assuming all power lines are live
  • Following proper hygiene procedures
  • Using portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles, and other equipment correctly
  • Creating traffic work zones

OSHA maintains a comprehensive website on keeping disaster site workers safe during cleanup and recovery operations. It contains fact sheets, concise "quick cards," frequently asked questions, safety and health guides and information, public service announcements in English and Spanish, and links to information from other sources.

Hoosiers Honored for Workplace Safety and Health

Recently, Commissioner Rick J. Ruble presented the Governor’s Workplace Safety Award to nine Hoosier companies to recognize their proactive efforts to eliminate and reduce worker exposure to occupational safety and health hazards. Additionally, four individuals received special recognition with the Everyday Safety Hero Award.

Held at the Indiana Convention Center, the Governor’s Workplace Safety Awards Luncheon was part of the 2017 Indiana Safety and Health Conference. The annual event is hosted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Central Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers in partnership with the Indiana Department of Labor.

“It is an honor to present these awards to Hoosier businesses and individuals,” said Commissioner Ruble. “Workers should remind themselves they don’t need superpowers to be a hero. Being proactive in occupational safety and health and protecting yourself and coworkers is a heroic quality.”

Indiana companies were recognized in the following categories: Education and Outreach, Innovations, Partnerships, and Rising Star. The 2017 Governor’s Workplace Safety Award recipients are:

  • Dow AgroSciences – Education and Outreach (External) for Construction
  • Gribbins Insulation Co., Inc. – Education and Outreach (Internal) for Construction
  • Steinberger Construction, Inc. – Innovations for Construction
  • BMWC Constructors, Inc. – Partnerships for Construction
  • Monsanto of Remington, Indiana – Education and Outreach (External) for General Industry
  • Fit Tight Covers – Education and Outreach (Internal) for General Industry
  • PAOLI Furniture – Innovations for General Industry
  • Red Gold, Inc., Distribution Center – Partnerships for General Industry
  • Republic Airline Inc. – Rising Star

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said, “A healthier workplace means more productive workers and a more profitable workplace. By providing an environment of workplace safety, these award winners are protecting the company’s most important asset—its workers.”

A distinguished award for 2017, the Everyday Safety Hero Award, recognized those Hoosiers who have championed workplace safety and health excellence in their respective workplaces. Individuals, who may not be safety and health professionals, were nominated by their peers or organizations. Winners were selected based on a narrative provided by their respective nominators.

Winners of the Everyday Safety Hero Award are:

  • Dennis DeMoss, General Superintendent for Rieth-Riley of Goshen, Indiana
  • Larry Tames, Director of Laundry and Transportation Services for Franklin United Methodist Community of Franklin, Indiana
  • Jennifer Hart, Payroll Clerk for LSC Communications of Crawfordsville, Indiana
  • Tony Faris, Equipment Operator for River Metals Recycling of Greensburg, Indiana

The annual Governor’s Workplace Safety Awards are a result of a partnership among government, business, and safety leaders including the Indiana Department of Labor on behalf of Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Safety Leaders Honored at Oregon GOSH Conference

Nine leaders in safety and health were honored with awards at the 2017 Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) Conference, during a Wednesday, March 8, ceremony at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. A panel of industry professionals judges the awards, which honor extraordinary contributions to the field of workplace safety and health. The categories include outstanding employers, individuals, associations, and teams.

The recipients this year are as follows:

  • Association Award – Oregon Trucking Associations, Inc.
  • Safety and Health Advocate (Individual) Award – Scott Simmons
  • Safety and Health Advocate (Team) Awards – Oregon Health Workforce Center; Samaritan Health Services Employee Health and Safety Team
  • Safety and Health Professional Awards – Kiley Ross, Qorvo US, Inc.; Lisa Simmons, Omega Morgan
  • Safety Committee Awards – Diamond Fruit Growers, Inc.;Fortis Construction, Inc.
  • Workplace Safety Program Award – Deschutes Brewery

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA), a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, partners with the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers to sponsor the conference.

More information about the conference is on the GOSH website:

Franklin Mitsubishi Facility Certified in Indiana’s Safety and Health Excellence Program

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, Inc., of Franklin, Indiana, received certification as a participating organization in the Indiana Safety and Health Recognition Program (INSHARP). As an INSHARP site, the facility is a representation of occupational safety and health program excellence for Hoosier businesses.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, Inc., is a manufacturer and supplier of automotive air-conditioning systems, including the Mitsubishi Scroll Compressor, and employer of 170 workers. The facility was developed and has been at its location in Franklin for 20 years.

“INSHARP certification is well-deserved for this Franklin manufacturer,” said Commissioner of Labor Rick J. Ruble. “The Indiana Department of Labor is proud to recognize the excellence of their safety and health programs that protect their workers.”

The facility’s average total recordable cases rate for the past three years is 2.8 per 100 workers, well below the national industry average of 4.4 (according to the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Additionally, the facility’s days away, restricted, transferred rate was 1.1, less than half of the national industry average of 2.4.

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