Oregon's Workplaces Much Safer in Past Decade

Oregon OSHA said 31 people covered by the state’s workers’ compensation system died during 2009, tying the record low for the state.

Fewer than 40 workers per year died on the job in the past decade, Oregon OSHA announced Monday, when it said 31 people covered by the state's workers' compensation system had died during 2009, tying the record low set in 2005. It is the lowest number since Oregon began tracking workplace fatalities in 1943. In the 1990s, average deaths were 55 per year, and injuries also were higher at 81 per year.

"Oregon workplaces are much safer today, and that's due to a significant effort by both employers and workers to prevent injuries and deaths," said Cory Streisinger, director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services director, which is OR-OSHA's parent agency. "This year, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of Oregon's historic workers' compensation reforms, we must recommit to a focus on prevention, to help ensure Oregon workers come home safely to their families each day."

Construction, trucking and transportation, and agricultural industries have recorded the most fatalities in the past five years, but their numbers are improving. While there were 12 construction deaths statewide in 2007, the number dropped to six last year.

"It's always good to see the number of fatalities go down, but we must never forget that these numbers represent real people," said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA. "Whether 10, or 30, or two workers die on the job, the loss experienced by each fallen worker's family and friends is just as real."

The data may not include workplace fatalities involving self-employed individuals, city of Portland police and fire employees, federal employees, and incidents occurring in Oregon to individuals with out-of-state employers.

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