L&I: Workplace deaths dip to historic low

After years of steady decline, deaths in Washington state due to fatal workplace injuries fell to 51 in 2011, the lowest number of work-related deaths in the state’s history, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). The deaths are reported in the Washington FACE 2011 Work-Related Fatalities Report (available online at http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/FACE/Files/FACEOccupationalFatalities2011.pdf ), and based on preliminary data. Researchers count only deaths from traumatic injuries or acute chemical exposures. Deaths due to illnesses related to work are not included in this report. The report is compiled by the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, which is managed by researchers with 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 workplace fatalities.

In recent years, Washington has averaged between 80 and 90 work-related deaths annually. The previous low was in 2009 when 65 workers died on the job.

The 2011 report noted that fewer workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing industries died on the job. There were also fewer incidents involving multiple victims. Researchers also noted on-the-job motor vehicle accidents were the number one cause of workplace fatalities in 2011 with 19 such deaths, eight of which involved heavy or tractor trailer truck drivers; small businesses with 10 or fewer workers accounted for a third of all workplace fatalities; the 50-59 age group of workers suffered the most deaths; and fatalities in the construction industry continued to remain low, with six deaths reported in 2011.

One of L&I’s primary missions is to improve workplace safety, and the agency offers a wide range of materials at http://www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety . A safety consultant can also visit worksites on request. Find information on this service at http://www.SafetyConsultants.Lni.wa.gov .