On August 25, 2005, the Census for Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary for 2004 reported a total of 5,703 fatal work injuries in the U.S.—an increase of 2% from the revised total reported for 2003. ASSE President Jack H. Dobson, Jr., CSP, of Wisconsin, says, “This report confirms our call for those businesses who ignore workplace safety programs to wake up and do something today to address this issue of people dying while on the job. And, for employees to participate in the process such as in safety training, learning how to wear and use personal protective equipment (PPE) properly, and more, to be an active participant in workplace safety and health programs. It’s not a game, it’s a life.
“Many of those deaths could have been prevented,” Dobson adds. “Workplace safety information is easily accessible for all businesses from such organizations as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Small Business Administration (SBA), ASSE, and more.
“We are discouraged to know that many companies and organizations do not value workplace safety and are unaware of the fact that developing and implementing effective occupational safety, health, and environmental systems not only saves lives and reduce injuries, but has a positive impact on the bottom line.
“What’s even more discouraging from this report is that once again transportation incidents were the leading cause of on-the-job deaths – about one out of every four fatal work injuries in 2004. We urge law enforcement officials to crack down on those that break traffic laws. Speeding, ignoring work zone safety warnings, running red lights and stop signs, and more all contribute to the continued deaths of workers on the road. Those workers include police men and women, emergency personnel, fire fighters, utility workers, truck drivers and those in sales. We also urge employers to review their driver safety policies which could include not requiring workers to conduct business on a cell phone while driving, mandating the use of a seat belt and developing work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations.
“The good news is that youth workplace fatalities (aged 16- 24, down by 6%) and workplace homicides (down by 13%) went down in 2004. ASSE and its members have developed and implemented many public awareness programs including those addressing youth safety in the schools and for summer job seekers, and workplace violence through our workplace violence benchmark survey and follow-up survey. It is good to see more businesses taking the initiative to develop and implement programs to address violence in the workplace and protect their employees.
“Workplace safety and heath affects every one of us. ASSE and its members will continue to work day in and day out to make sure the millions of people who leave home each day for work return home safely. We hope all businesses and organizations in the U.S. and worldwide do the same,” Dobson concludes.