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. Workplace Danger Continues
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. However, in 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were still 5,190 total fatal work-related injuries across all sectors.
“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 Construction Industry Has The Most Common OSHA Violation
The most common OSHA violation involves fall protection in the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.501). Hazard communication in the general industry ranks as the second most commonly cited violation (29 CFR 1910.1200)
3. 16% of Fatal Workplace Injuries Are Fatal Falls
However, the risk of falling should be taken seriously in any work environment. Fatal falls account for 16.4% of fatal workplace injuries, marking a notable increase from 805 in 2020 to 850 in 2021. As it stands, fatal falls demand close attention and vigilance across industries, reinforcing the importance of robust safety measures and protocols in the workplace.
4. "Falls On The Same Level" Are The Second Leading Cause of Injuries
The truth is, workplace falls, at any height are dangerous. In 2021, the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index revealed that "same-level falls" like tripping, are the second most common cause of workplace injuries, just behind overexertion like handling objects.
Falls on the same level contribute to 18.1% of disabling workplace injuries and cost businesses a substantial $10.58 billion when considering medical and lost wage expenses. Overall, disabling workplace injuries have a collective financial impact on businesses, exceeding $58 billion every year.
5. Non-Compliant Hazard Communication is The Most Common OSHA Violation
The second most common OSHA violation is inadequate or otherwise non-compliant hazard communication in the 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. Millions of Non-Fatal Accidents Recorded Every Year
Non-fatal accidents are also incredibly common. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that private industry employers reported more than 2.6 million non-fatal workplace injuries in 2021. Since 2014, there has been a decline in the number of reported non-fatal workplace injuries, which previously recorded nearly 3 million non-fatal injuries.
7. Serious Workplace Injuries Cost U.S. Companies Almost $59.61 Billion Annually
The 2021 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index also reports that the most serious workplace injuries cost U.S. companies almost $59.61 billion annually.
8. Most Injuries or Illnesses Are Under-Reported
Most workplace injuries and illnesses are under-reported, sometimes significantly so. This under-reporting can have serious consequences for both employees and employers. When injuries and illnesses go unreported, it creates a false sense of safety in the workplace, leading to a lack of proper precautions and preventive measures being implemented. This can result in further accidents and injuries, as well as the potential spread of illnesses among workers.
9. Unexpected Elements of Workplace Safety
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. This concern intensified in 2020 when the number of fatal drug overdoses increased to 388, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and preventative measures.
10. Exceeding Minimum Requirements Can Reduce Accident Rates
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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