The latest injury and fatality statistics reported by the Missouri Department of Labor for calendar year 2018 include the following:
There were 102 total work-related fatalities during 2018. These fatalities were attributed to:
- 25 automobile crashes
- 16 construction industry
- 15 transportation and warehousing industries, combined
- 11 public administration industry
Men represented the majority of all fatalities and the 50 to 59-year old age bracket accounted for more than 30% of these fatalities. August was the leading month for work-related injuries (16) leading to death, and July followed closely with 13. Wednesday was the most fatal day of the week, representing 22 of the 102 fatalities, and 21 of the deaths occurred on Mondays.
Motor Vehicle Crashes
Motor vehicle accidents are (and historically have been) the leading cause of worker fatality. The common misconception is that these fatalities occur in the transportation industry. While this industry certainly suffers its fair share of MVA-related deaths, it does not have the corner on this market. In our mobile society, business executives fly all over the country, home healthcare workers drive to and from clients’ homes, courier services and consultants operate on the highways daily. These statistics include crash-related fatalities for all industries and emphasize the importance of hiring safe drivers and enforcing a distracted driving policy.
Non-Fatality Work-Related Injuries
A total of 101,877 reportable injuries were recorded in 2018. Of those, 8,358 were lost-time incidents. Manufacturing and the healthcare industries typically run shoulder-to-shoulder for both lost-time and overall number of reportable injuries, and 2018 was no exception. Manufacturing led the way for non-fatal lost-time injuries, followed by healthcare and social services. The opposite is true when the sheer number of recordable incidents are tallied, with healthcare and social services edging out the manufacturing sector. Strains and sprains (or muscle tears) were the loss leader, with lifting being the number one root cause of strain injuries.
By comparison, there were 118 fatalities, 99,743 recordable injuries, and 8,246 lost-time injuries in calendar year 2017. There were 2,134 more reportable injury incidents and 112 more lost-time injury incidents in calendar year 2018. Fatalities, however, decreased by 16 – BIG WIN!
Loss Leaders in the Construction, Transportation, and Warehousing Industries
With the exception of automobile crashes, the construction industry is the fatality leader, largely due to falls, struck-by, electrocutions, and caught-between injuries. Construction workers routinely work from heights that require fall prevention and/or protection. They are surrounded by high-voltage electrical hazards and frequently work in inclement weather – a contributing factor to both falls and electrocution injuries and fatalities. Housekeeping frequently contributes to fall claims in this industry. Struck-by claims are common and often involve tools falling from platform scaffolding onto workers below. Workers suffer caught between injuries as minor as catching a finger in a pinch point or being pinned (partially or completely) between moving equipment and stationary walls or steel beams.
Planes, trains, and automobiles all fall under the transportation industry. The transportation and warehousing industries report large numbers of slip and fall claims. Inclement weather plays a large role in the number of truck drivers who slip and fall while descending the cab of a truck . Frozen precipitation on steps account for a large number of sprains and broken bones each year. Grounds crews at the airport operate tugs and carts and climb ladders in all kinds of weather . Overreaching in a warehouse may result in back, shoulder, or neck strain. Improper storage practices often lead to struck-by incidents resulting from products falling from overhead. Many of these injuries are preventable by using the right equipment for the job and following safe work protocols . Truck mechanics commonly suffer minor burns, hand contusions and lacerations, and muscle strain injuries. Truck drivers and warehouse workers alike are subject to caught-between injuries that frequently occur during loading and unloading at the dock.
Public Administration Risks
The public administration industry includes emergency personnel (police, firefighters, ambulance workers, CDC, FEMA, correction officers, etc.), government, and defense personnel. These workers face a variety of high-risk situations in the course of performing their routine duties. These situations may range from a disgruntled consumer to a domestic violence or hostage situation, a biological, environmental, or medical emergency, an active shooter situation, or a terrorist threat. Not only do these workers face typical workplace exposures, but they confront the potential for workplace violence on a daily basis. Public Administration workers accounted for 9,228 injury accidents, 880 lost-time incidents, and 11 fatalities during the 2018 calendar year.
Granted, these are raw numbers and not a complete statistical analysis (which would include numerous other variables), but the bottom line remains the same: 16 more workers went home every day in 2018 than in 2017. Is there any better benchmark for workplace safety?