L&I: Workplace deaths rise across state; agriculture tops list

Workplace deaths in Washington state climbed in 2010, with 86 men and women killed due to job-related trauma, according to a report on work-related fatalities the Department of Labor & Industries(L&I) released today.

The deaths are the most reported since 2006 and a steep climb from the 65 fatalities reported in 2009.

“Last year was a difficult one for worker safety, and this report demonstrates that,” said L&I director Judy Schurke. “Behind these numbers are grieving families and traumatized co-workers. It is only with the continuing cooperation of labor, business and safety and health professionals that we can hope to prevent future deaths like these from happening.”

The Washington FACE 2010 Work-Related Fatalities Report is based on preliminary data regarding workplace deaths in 2010. It was compiled by the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, managed by L&I’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program. FACE is part of a national program designed to identify and study fatal occupational injuries.

“These tragic statistics demonstrate that workplace deaths occur with alarming frequency,” said SHARP Research Director Barbara Silverstein. “Our hope is that this report will encourage a broad discussion of safety and health in every work site in our state.”

Among the report’s findings, deaths involving farm workers, loggers and workers in the fishing industry accounted for 20 of the fatalities in 2010. Seven farm workers died in tractor roll-over accidents, which prompted L&I to issue a hazard alert ( http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Basics/HazAlerts/PDFs/TractorFatals.pdf ) to the agriculture industry last month.

And with seven men and women killed in a single incident at the Tesoro refinery explosion in Anacortes, Skagit County ranked just behind King County last year for having the most workplace deaths.

Despite the overall increase in workplace deaths, fatalities in the construction industry remained low with seven deaths reported in 2010.

L&I provides a number of resources on its Web site — http://www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety — intended to help employers and workers address a wide variety of safety hazards. The agency also has safety consultants available to visit worksites for assistance with workplace hazards. Visit http://www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety/Basics/Assistance for more information.

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Washington FACE 2010 Work-Related Fatalities Report — http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/FACE/Files/FaceDataSumm2010.pdf

Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program — http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/FACE/default.asp

Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program — http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/default.asp