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ASSE Comments on ’06 Workplace Fatalities

Tue August 21, 2007 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Michael W. Thompson applauded the apparent drop in workplace fatalities as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2006.

“Our members everyday contribute to creating, through prevention efforts, a workplace that is injury and illness free. Business and labor must continue to work together with government to reach the ultimate goal of zero fatalities,” Thompson said. “The BLS report noted that 5,703 people lost their lives on-the-job in 2006. The report indicated the number one activity in the workplace that led to fatalities was again transportation incidents.

“Globally our members work everyday in a prevention mode to achieve the goal that everyone goes to and returns home from work safely every day,” Thompson said. “They work in every industry and throughout the world. And every day we are looking for and implementing new and innovative ideas aimed at preventing injuries and illnesses in the workplace.”

The Department of Labor’s BLS National census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2006 shows 5,703 people died from on-the-job injuries in 2006 compared with 5,734 in 2005.

Fatal highway incidents remained the number one cause of on-the-job deaths claiming 1,329 lives, accounting for nearly one out of four fatal work injuries. Falls ranked second, claiming 809 lives, with being struck by objects as the third cause of on-the-job fatal injuries with 583 fatalities.

Workplace homicides ranked fourth claiming the lives of 516 workers, with more than 80 percent of those workers being shot.

Another key finding of the BLS report was the sharp increase in aircraft-related fatalities in 2006, after declining in 2005. In 2006 there were 44 multiple-fatality aircraft incidents claiming 137 workers.

The report revealed that fatalities know no gender or age boundary. Fatal workplace injuries involving females increased by five percent in 2006. The number of fatal work injuries among those 25 and younger decreased while fatal work injuries among workers 55 and older increased slightly, likely attributable to the growing number of older workers in the workforce.

“We applaud those states that continue to see a drop in worker accidents and fatalities, such as Alabama, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Wyoming and the District of Columbia which recorded declines of 20 percent or more,” Thompson added.

In all, 27 states reported higher fatality numbers in 2006, while 23 states and Washington, D.C., recorded lower totals. Texas had the highest number of worker fatalities with 486 followed by California with 448 and Florida with 355. The 12 states recording an increase in fatalities of 20 percent or more were Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

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