Workplace deaths rising

Job-related deaths are on the rise in Oregon and throughout the United States.

A preliminary total of 4,679 fatal work injuries were re- corded in 2014, an increase of 2 percent over the final count of 4,585 fatalities in 2013 — and the highest since 2008, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Final data for 2014 won’t be released until later this spring.

Work-related fatalities in Oregon increased by 20 over that same time period — from 49 in 2013 to 69 in 2014. Two categories accounted for over half of the deaths; 29 resulted from transportation incidents and 13 from contact with objects and equipment.

Fatal occupational injuries in Oregon have ranged from a high of 88 in 1992, to a low of 43 in 2012.

Nationally, increases in job-related deaths were highest among older employees, contract workers, and the self-employed. The number of workers 55 years and over who were killed in 2014 increased 9 percent to 1,621, the highest ever recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ census, which started in 1992.

Rebecca Reindel, a safety and health specialist with the national AFL-CIO, told FairWarning Reports that the bulk of the increase in the older worker category came among people age 65 and up.

“We have people working longer now than they have in the past, and older workers can be at great risk for safety and health hazards,” Reindel said. “Too often employers want the worker to adapt to the process rather than designing a process to adapt to the worker. And, in an aging work force, those problems become more prominent.”

Contract workers accounted for 17 percent of all job-related deaths in 2014, rising 6 percent to 797. Fatal injuries to self-employed workers rose 10 percent  to 1,047.

Women killed on the job rose 13 percent to 359. Even with this increase, women accounted for only 8 percent of all job-related deaths in 2014.

Fatal work injuries among men were higher at 4,320.

Out of 4,251 worker fatalities in private industry in 2014, 874 —or 20.5 percent—were in construction. The leading causes were falls (349), electrocutions (74), struck by object (73), and caught-in/between (12). These “Fatal Four” were responsible for 58.1 percent of construction casualties in 2014, BLS reports.

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