Itasca, IL – Unintentional injuries in the workplace – such as falls, motor vehicle crashes and exposures to chemicals or other harmful substances – have reached their highest level since 2008, according to National Safety Council analysis of final federal data. In 2014, 4,132 workers died of unintentional injuries – an increase of 6 percent over 2013. This is the first sizable increase in unintentional workplace deaths in 20 years. In that time, 92,533 workers have been killed – every single death preventable.
The analysis came just before the nation pauses to observe Worker’s Memorial Day on April 28.
“Every single worker should make it home, safe and sound, to their family every night,” said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute and EHS and Sustainability at the National Safety Council. “Clearly we are not doing enough to ensure that happens. On Worker’s Memorial Day we need to remember those we have lost and renew our commitment to safety so we can save lives and reverse this trend.”
Certain industries experienced sharper rises in unintentional injuries than others, including the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry (18 percent), the mining industry (18 percent), the manufacturing industry (11 percent) and the construction industry (8 percent).
Older workers also saw a record-high number of fatalities – both intentional and unintentional. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,691 fatalities among workers 55 and older – a 4 percent increase over 2013.
To help ensure safer workplaces, the National Safety Council recommends:
- Protecting temporary and contract workers, who have significantly higher rates of incidents and deaths than permanent, non-contractual employees
- Improving record keeping to ensure better data collection of occupational injuries and illnesses
- Speaking up. Federal laws entitle workers to safe workplaces and protect workers’ rights to express any concerns without the fear of retaliation.
Purple ribbons are worn in observance of Worker’s Memorial Day. The National Safety Council encourages everyone to wear a purple ribbon to remember those we have lost because of incidents we know how to prevent.