In the U.S., thousands of workers die in the workplace everywhere, and millions experience non-fatal injuries and illnesses. That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) monitors safety conditions in the workplace. Enforcing worker safety is not just the right thing to do, it’s required by law. But what does this mean exactly? Here are 10 eye-opening facts about workplace safety.
1. Thousands of people die from injuries sustained at work every year. In 2016, the number was 5,190. In 2017, it improved slightly to 5,147. “We have not made a significant improvement,” says Rixio Medina, president of the American Society of Safety Professionals and a vice president at safety consultancy Insight Risk LLC based in Houston. “Too many workers are dying as a result of the injuries that they suffer at work.”
2. The most common OSHA violation is fall protection in construction. (29 CFR 1926.501)
3. However, the risk of falling should be taken seriously in any work environment. Fatal falls account for 17.2% of fatal workplace injuries, representing a 26-year high, and about a quarter of these falls occur from heights of 10 feet or less.
4. The truth is, falls at any height are dangerous. The 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index found that “falls on the same level” (e.g., tripping) are the second most common cause of workplace injuries. (The most common they found is overexertion)
5. The second most common OSHA violation is inadequate or otherwise non-compliant hazard communication in general industry. (29 CFR 1910.1200) In other words, more businesses need to do a better job of communicating with their employees about workplace hazards.
6. Non-fatal accidents are also incredibly common. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report that private industry employers reported nearly 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries in 2016.
7. The 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index also reports that the most serious workplace injuries cost U.S. companies almost $59.87 billion annually.
8. Most workplace injuries and illnesses are under-reported, sometimes significantly so.
9. Workplace safety can include aspects you might not normally think about. For example, fatal drug overdoses are happening in the workplace with increasing frequency, with 272 deaths in 2017, an increase of 25.3% from 2016.
10. Employers should consider going above and beyond. According to an analysis of The Economics of Workplace Safety, “By spending $750,000 more to exceed the minimum safety and design requirements and reduce the accident rates by 50 percent, the annual projected cost of accidents drops from $140,813 to $70,407.”
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