Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood

Oregon's Fatalities Rose 25 Percent Last Year

Saying he is pleased construction deaths did not continue to increase last year, Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood announced Tuesday that 44 workers covered by Oregon's workers' compensation system had died on the job in 2008. Wood spoke at the 2009 Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health Conference in Salem.

Eight of the 2008 fatalities occurred in a firefighting helicopter crash in Northern California. Those deaths meant 15 workers in agriculture, forestry, and fishing died in 2008, making this the hardest-hit sector in the state during the year. Second highest was six deaths in truck transportation. Twelve of the 44 deaths (27 percent) involved motor vehicle crashes. There were 35 fatalities among Oregon workers covered by the state comp system job in 2007.

"I am pleased to see the upward trend in construction deaths didn't continue,” he said, according to a release posted by Oregon's Department of Consumer & Business Services. "But five deaths are still too many, and I know we can do more to reduce those risks."

The lowest fatality total in a single year was 31 in 2004. DCBS said the average during the 1990s was 55 deaths, and the average in the 1980s was 81 deaths.

The state's total number of 2008 deaths caused by workplace injuries, whether or not the victim was covered by the state comp system, will be published in the BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) report in fall 2009.

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