Oregon OSHA: 28 Workplace Fatalities in 2011

The total is an increase from 2010’s all-time low of 17 deaths. That figure was likely tied, in part, to the economic downturn. In 2009, 31 people died on the job, and in 2008 there were 45 deaths.

Twenty-eight people covered by the Oregon workers’ compensation system died on the job during 2011, the state’s Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced recently. It’s the second lowest number of deaths reported since the state started tracking workplace deaths in 1943.

The total is an increase from 2010’s all-time low of 17 deaths. That figure was likely tied, in part, to the economic downturn. In 2009, 31 people died on the job, and in 2008 there were 45 deaths.

On-the-job injuries have been on the decline in recent decades. In the 1990s, there was an average of 55 workplace deaths per year. In the 1980s, the average was 81 deaths. The statewide rate of reported workplace injuries and illnesses has also decreased more than 50 percent since the late 1980s.

“The loss of any worker on the job is a tragedy,” said Patrick Allen, DCBS director. “While this year’s increase in worker deaths is modest, and still at historically low levels, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure safe workplaces for all Oregonians.”

Trucking and logging industries saw the largest concentration of deaths in 2011, with four each. That trend is consistent with fatalities in 2010.

“Success in reducing fatalities requires continued effort—and it’s a matter of winning the battle at each individual job site in Oregon,” said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA, a division of DCBS. “While the overall trend in deaths remains promising, we can’t forget the real tragedy for the family and friends of each of these individuals.”

DCBS compiles fatality statistics from records of death claim benefits paid by Oregon workers’ compensation insurers during the calendar year. The data reported may exclude 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. These workers are either not subject to Oregon workers’ compensation coverage requirements or are covered by other compensation systems.

The link to the full DCBS fatality report can be found here: http://www.cbs.state.or.us/imd/rasums/ra_pdf/wc/fatal/annual_rpt_11.pdf

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