Though the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was instituted to provide a harm-free work environment, the workplace is still a hazardous place. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012 saw nearly 3.0 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported. This comes out to an incidence rate of 3.4 cases per 100 full-time workers. The rate reported in 2012 continues a trend of significant decline in workplace injury, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also notes that the number of total recordable cases of workplace injuries and illnesses in private industries had decreased from the previous year. However, the number of injuries and illnesses serious enough to warrant days away from work, job transfer, or restrictions, did not decrease. Still, no private industries saw an increase in workplace injuries and illnesses from the previous year.
OSHA also has comprehensive data on the subject of workplace injuries, as well as the most common causes for injuries and deaths. OSHA reports that 4,628 workers were killed on the job in 2012, which is a rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. This comes out to an average of 89 deaths a week, or over 12 deaths every day, which OSHA notes is the second lowest total since the first fatal injury census was performed in 1992.
The workplace injury reports place emphasis on safety for construction workers, since out of 4,175 reported worker injuries in private industry, 806 of them were in construction. The high rate of construction accidents is related to the “Fatal Four.” The Fatal Four is the top 4 most common causes for death and injury in construction accidents; the Fatal Four was responsible for over half (54.2 percent) r construction worker deaths in 2012. The Fatal Four consists of:
- Falls: 279 out of 806 deaths in construction were due to falls, which is 34.6 percent.
- Struck by Object: 79 out of 806 deaths, or 9.8 percent.
- Electrocutions- 66 deaths out of 806, which is 8.1 percent.
- Caught-in/between- 13 out of 806 deaths, or 1.6 percent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that eliminating the Fatal Four as risks would save 437 worker’s lives in America yearly. Nearly 6.5 million people work at about 252,000 construction sites across the U.S., and the rate for fatal injury in the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries.
Though worker deaths and injuries are still frequent, the rates are actually improving. Since 1970, workplace injuries have decreases by over 65 percent, and work-related injury and illness rates have been reduced by 67 percent. These statistics are especially encouraging when considering that U.S. employment nearly doubled during the same time period. Overall, worker deaths in America have decreased. In 1970, there was on average about 38 worker deaths a day, while today it is down to 12 a day. In addition, there were on average 10.9 incidents of injury and illness per 100 workers in 1972, and in 2011 the rate had decreased to 3.4 incidents per 100 workers.