Each year the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles data on fatal workplace accidents. The number of fatal work injuries has climbed over the last 10 years. In 2019, there were 5,333 recorded work-related deaths, which was more than any other year since 2007. In California, 451 people died in 2019 due to workplace accidents – a 20% increase since 2017.
There were some concerning trends in 2019:
- Workers over 55 had the highest number of deaths since they began being tracked in 1970.
- Hispanic workers had more deaths than any time since 1992.
- Drivers had more than any time since 2003.
- Grounds maintenance workers saw the highest number of fatalities since 2003.
- The private construction industry had more deaths than any time since 2007.
Accurate recording of workplace injury data is vital. It helps the BLS and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take action. Perhaps more importantly, it enables individual employers and their employees to take steps to improve safety.
Documenting close calls could reduce the number of fatalities
While collecting data on fatal injuries is highly important, you could argue it is two steps too late. The deaths recorded can no longer be prevented, even if the learnings can help prevent future ones.
Reporting close calls is something all companies should do, yet it is typically not required by law. OSHA “strongly encourages employers to investigate all incidents in which a worker was hurt, as well as close calls (sometimes called ‘near misses’), in which a worker might have been hurt if the circumstances had been slightly different.”
If you are injured at work, you should be able to get workers’ compensation. However, it is far better to avoid the incident in the first place. Reporting near misses can help eliminate a hazard before it harms or kills someone.