The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its workplace fatality data. Once again, the numbers clearly show we are not doing enough to mitigate the risks our workers face every day on the job.
For a third straight year, the U.S. experienced a small rise in unintentional, preventable worker fatalities – 4,414 deaths in 2017 compared to 4,398 in 2016. The upward trend has been fueled by the opioid crisis, as accidental drug overdoses claimed 272 lives in 2017 compared with 217 the previous year. Work-related motor vehicle crashes also rose, to 1,299 fatalities from 1,252 the previous year, as did falls to a lower level (713 deaths from 697). Motor vehicle crashes and falls have been the leading causes of preventable death on the job for many years. Drug overdose is the No. 1 cause of preventable death off the job.
At work, leadership should set the tone and engage all employees in safety, identifying hazards and measuring safety performance using leading indicators to ensure continuous improvement. All employers need to take a systematic approach to safety. This includes having policies and training in place to address the major causes of fatalities and injuries.
Workplace injuries and fatalities should never be considered a cost of doing business. Every worker deserves a safe work environment and to return home safely every day.