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DOL, OSHA Honor Workers Memorial Day

Monday, May 3, 2021

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Last week, on April 28, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration commemorated Workers Memorial Day to honor workers who have lost their lives on the job.

The year, the department also observes OSHA’s 50th anniversary.

Workers Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices many workers make to earn their wages and provide for themselves and their families, said Secretary of Labor Marty WalshNo one should ever have to lose their life, suffer a disabling injury or develop a life-altering illness because they went to work. The dedicated professionals at the U.S. Department of Labor are determined to ensure that U.S. workers finish their workdays safely and hold those accountable whose neglect increases the likelihood of harm to our fellow citizens.

According to OSHA, more than 5,000 people suffer fatal injuries at work each year, and thousands more are hurt or sickened. The department noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of OSHA’s mission.

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Last week, on April 28, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration commemorated Workers Memorial Day to honor workers who have lost their lives on the job.

In its 50-year history, OSHA has been at the forefront of many positive changes in workplace safety, but the pandemic made it clear—there remains much room for improvement and much more work to do,said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. We intend to honor those workers who risked and lost their lives in the pandemic—and those they leave behind – by making America’s workplaces the safest and healthiest they can be.

OSHA noted that with $100 million in additional funding from the American Rescue Plan, it is planning to implement measures including hiring more than 160 new personnel, including compliance safety and health officers to respond to the pandemic

OSHA will also make available an additional $10 million in funds for Susan Harwood Training grants to support organizations delivering vital training.

OSHA also launched a new Workers Memorial Page that aims to lift up the voices of workers who lost their lives on the job. A virtual Workers Memorial Wall features names and images of workers as a solemn tribute for workers’ families, friends and coworkers.

Industry Dangers and Fatalities

At the end of 2020, a report listing the 25 most dangerous jobs was released by business insurance analysis firm AdivsorSmith. Of that list, 12 of the 25 jobs are in the construction industry.

The study examined 263 professions with employment of at least 50,000 workers nationwide and used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which conducts a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries that calculate workplace fatalities by occupation every year.

The firm notes that on-the-job deaths have been rising in recent years, from 4,821 in 2014 to 5,250 deaths in 2018, an increase of 9% over the five-year period. However, the rate of deaths adjusted for employment has only risen approximately 2.2% over the same period, as a previously improving economy led to additional employment. In 2018, the average fatality rate among all jobs was 3.4 per 100,000 workers.

The study also found that some jobs in the list are significantly more dangerous than others—the job in the top spot, logging, is 33 times more dangerous than the average job, for example.

Additionally, the study found that many of the workers in the most dangerous jobs earn salaries that are below the May 2019 annual mean wage of $53,490, and companies that hire workers with dangerous jobs typically have workers’ compensation insurance premiums that are higher than average.

The top 25 list is ranked by the fatal injury rate per 100,000 workers (not just the total number of deaths in a year). The list includes:

  1. Logging worker, 111s;
  2. aircraft pilots and flight engineers, 53;
  3. derrick and oil field workers, 46;
  4. roofers, 41;
  5. garbage collectors, 34;
  6. ironworker, 29s;
  7. delivery drivers, 27;
  8. farmers, 26;
  9. firefighting supervisors, 20;
  10. power linemen, 20;
  11. agricultural workers, 20;
  12. crossing guards, 19;
  13. crane operators, 19;
  14. construction helpers, 18;
  15. landscaping supervisors, 18;
  16. highway maintenance worker, 18s;
  17. cement masons, 17;
  18. small engine mechanics, 15;
  19. supervisors of mechanics, 15;
  20. heavy vehicle mechanics, 14;
  21. grounds maintenance workers, 14;
  22. police officers, 14;
  23. maintenance workers, 14;
  24. construction workers, 13; and
  25. mining machine operators, 11.

Most common fatal accidents included transportation incidents; falls, slips and trips; violence and other injuries by persons or animals; contact with objects and equipment; and exposure to harmful substances or environments.

Shortly after that survey, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report for 2019. According to the data, the construction industry had 1,066 fatal injuries last year.

The 1,066 deaths are up 6% from 2018, and are also the sector’s highest number reported since 2007. The 2019 rate of injuries per 100,000 workers in the industry was 9.7, up about 2.1% from 9.5 in 2018. However, of all the industries, 5,333 on-the-job fatalities were recorded, a rate of 33.5 per 100,000 workers. 2018 clocked 5,250 total, which was a 2% increase from 2017.

Within the industry, architects and engineering occupations had 43 fatal injuries while construction tradeworkers had 809. Roofers had a fatal injury rate of 54 per 100,000 workers, construction trade helpers had a rate of 40 and structural iron and steel workers had a rate of 26.3.

Other key findings include:

  • Transportation incidents increased 2% in 2019 to 2,122 cases—the most cases since this series began in 2011—and continued to account for the largest share of fatalities;
  • Falls, slips and trips increased 11% in 2019 to 880;
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments led to the deaths of 642 workers in 2019, the highest figure since the series began in 2011;
  • Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol increased for the seventh consecutive year to 313 in 2019; and
  • Fatalities due to fires and explosions decreased 14% to 99 in 2019.

Within the private construction industry, the causes of death include:

  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments/electricity and extreme temperatures (167);
  • Contact with objects and equipment/struck-by and caught-in/between incidents (146);
  • Roadway incidents involving a motorized land vehicle (142);
  • Roadway collisions with an object other than a vehicle (34);
  • Noncollision roadway incidents (25);
  • Fires and explosions (7);
  • Collisions between a rail vehicle and another vehicle (7); and
  • Water vehicle incidents (5).


Tagged categories: Accidents; Department of Labor; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Safety; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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