California Sees Rise in Worker Deaths in 2018 Stats

There has been a reported increase in worker deaths in the state of California according to most recent data from 2018.

The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) just reported an increase in worker deaths from years past. In 2018, 422 workers in the state died on the job compared to 376 in 2017, 388 in 2016, and 344 in 2014.

“These workers who lost their lives on the job in California serve as a reminder that we need to do everything possible to keep workplaces safe,” said Douglas Parker, chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).

An increase in worker deaths is always a concern for a state’s health and safety departments. The Cal/OSHA department reports it is looking into the data to best “bolster and direct [its] enforcement and education efforts,” said Parker.

Overall, California’s rate of fatal workplace incidents per 100,000 workers remains stable, with minor fluctuations since 2008. The state’s rate has consistently been lower than the national average. For 2018, the national fatal injury rate was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time workers, and California’s was just 2.3.

However, some demographics of people are more affected than others. Cal/OSHA has expressed concern at the percentage of Latino deaths reported each year—43 percent in 2018. DIR reiterated that it is committed to workplace safety outreach and education efforts—especially with a focus on high-hazard in the case of monolingual, non-English-speaking workers.

Of the 422 work-related fatalities in California in 2018, 155 of those resulted from transportation incidents and 62 from workplace homicides.

California is not the only place seeing a rise in workplace fatalities, however. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and the National Safety Council (NSC) have noted a national rise in work-related fatalities, and there is growing concern.

“With the innovative tools available to today’s employers nationwide, it’s concerning that we’re continuing to see higher numbers of worker fatalities,” ASSP President Diana Stegall said in a statement.
“Most occupational incidents are preventable given today’s technologies and proven safety and health strategies,” Stegall said.

Work-related motor vehicle crashes and falls still remain the leading cause of preventable death on the job, but drug and alcohol overdoses are growing workplace threats. For the sixth consecutive year, overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol increased overall, leading to 305 deaths in 2018—compared with 272 the previous year.

Work-related motor vehicle deaths did decline, totaling 1,276 in 2018 (from 1,299 in 2017)—according to the NSC. Falls to a lower level also decreased to 615 in 2018 (compared to 713 the year prior).

The NSC encouraged employers to take a systematic approach to safety, such as implementing policies, training, and risk assessment techniques, to address major causes of fatalities and injuries.

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