Try different selections on the Fatal Injury graphing object below and then select the play button to see how some fatal injury totals change over time.
Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy. American workers are not looking for a handout or a free lunch. They are looking for a good day's pay for a hard day's work. They just want to go to work, provide for their families, and get home in one piece.
– Secretary of Labor, Workers Memorial Day Speech
Out of 4,206* worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2010, 774 or 18.7% were in construction. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls (34%, 264 out of 774), followed by electrocution (10%), struck by object (8%), and caught-in/between (4%). These "Fatal Four" were responsible for nearly three out of five (56%) construction worker deaths in 2010*, BLS reports. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 437 workers' lives in America every year.
- Construction's "Fatal Four", Construction Worker Deaths
4,690 workers were killed on the job in 2010 (3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) — more than 90 a week or nearly 13 deaths every day. (This is a slight increase from the 4,551, fatal work injuries in 2009, but the second lowest annual total since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992). 707 Hispanic or Latino workers were killed from work-related injuries in 2010 — more than 13 deaths a week.
- Worker Injuries, illnesses and fatalities, 2010 Fatal Injuries
Finding a 4-leaf clover on the first try (10,000 to 1 odds against) would be considered GOOD luck. Dying from a shark attack (300,000,000 to 1 odds against) is definitely BAD luck.
But how do they compare to each other? Looking at only the numbers doesn’t tell us much but making a picture in our “mind’s eye” can help. Think of the odds for (not against) dying from a shark attack as a 6 inch line or the length of a dollar bill. Then by comparison, the odds for finding a 4-leaf clover can be thought of as a line nearly 3 miles long (30,000 times greater).
Workplace accidents are much more likely than shark attacks and are happening every day. For example, in 2011, over 700 construction workers were killed as a result of a workplace accident. Coincidentally, the odds of a construction worker dying from a job accident are also 30,000 times greater than dying from a shark attack. Workplace deaths are tragic and too frequent.
Though we are comparing them to events which have an element of chance, worker fatalities and injuries are certainly NOT the result of bad luck. They are preventable with training, proper equipment, and careful effort.
The odds of injury or death for a specific worker in the workplace are greatly reduced when that worker is properly trained, uses personal protective equipment (PPE), and does not take careless risks.
Play WORKING SAFELY IS NO ACCIDENT to help understand the risks of injury or death in the workplace.
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