Workplace fatalities are continuing to increase, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Approximately one out of every four fatal injuries on the job are due to transportation incidents, the top cause of workplace incidents. Employees in Oklahoma and throughout the United States are also at an increased risk of experiencing injuries due to workplace violence and exposure to harmful substances, although injuries attributed to fires and explosions are on the decline.
Residents of Oklahoma may be concerned about the danger of workplace injuries, particularly after the release of a report about fatalities related to on-the-job accidents in 2016. During the year, workplace fatalities rose for the third consecutive year in a row, reaching a total of 5,190. This is the highest number of workplace deaths in the United States since 2008, when 5,214 workers were killed on the job. During 2016, workers lost their lives at a rate of 14 per day to workplace injuries and accidents.
In Oklahoma and across the United States, workplace injuries are a common occurrence. According to a 2016 census by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace accidents led to 5,190 fatalities, a 7 percent increase from 2015 and the highest number since 2008. This amounts to 14 workers being killed every day.
Many Oklahomans are injured each year while they are working. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal agency tasked with enforcing safety regulations. The agency's new injury and illness reporting requirements, which would make companies submit reports of injuries and illnesses electronically to the agency, have been delayed.
Oklahoma residents who work at loading docks or deal with heavy equipment are at risk from collisions caused by blind spots. The lack of visibility in one's workplace can result in accidents that cause significant physical injuries and even death.
Oklahomans who have just turned 65 may not be as inclined to retire as their counterparts from previous generations. Financial pressure or the desire to work has prompted people to stay on the job through their 60s and even 70s. According to the Pew Research Center, 18.8 percent of people age 65 and above held full or part-time jobs in 2016. The physical effects of aging and different communication styles across generations have created challenges for workplace safety managers and trainers.
Oklahoma construction workers may be interested to know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified falls as the leading contributing factor in accidental fatalities on construction sites. In 2015, out of the 937 workplace fatalities that were reported around the country, 350 of them were attributed to falling. In 2017, construction falls are first on OSHA's list of top safety violations.
All Oklahoma workers need to be given the right equipment and training to do their jobs safely. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated an incident in which a 33-year-old man died after falling 7 feet off a pallet that had been raised by a forklift.
Oklahoma workers may face dangers related to working in hot weather even as the calendar transitions to fall. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 37 work-related deaths around the country in 2015 related to heat exposure on the job. Of those deaths, 33 occurred between June and September. In addition, there were 2,830 nonfatal injuries and illnesses related to heat exposure.
Preventing serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace should be an important priority for people concerned about safety on the job in Oklahoma. There are different types of potential injuries that can take place during the work day, and safety advocates are urging a prevention-focused approach to protect workers from dangerous accidents.