Oregon Construction Deaths Decreased, Trucking Fatalities Increased in 2008

March 17, 2009

Forty-four people covered by the Oregon’s workers’ compensation system died on the job during 2008. The new figures were announced today by Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood during his opening remarks of the 2009 Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety
and Health (GOSH) Conference at the Oregon Convention Center. The data is compiled by the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS).

The 2008 total is a significant increase from 2007’s total of 35 fatalities, according to DCBS. However, the 2008 figure includes eight workers killed in a firefighting helicopter crash in the Northern California wilderness. The eight workers were among 15 who died in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry. The second highest concentration of deaths was in truck transportation, which accounted for six deaths. Overall, 12 of the deaths — more than 27 percent of the total — were the result of motor vehicle crashes.

Oregon is one of just a few states that require workplace motor vehicle accidents to be reported. Since 2007, Oregon OSHA has been analyzing data from the collisions and from employers
about the use of vehicles for business and driver safety procedures.

The numbers show an improvement in construction, where there were 12 deaths in 2007. In 2008, five workers died on construction jobs.

“I am pleased to see the upward trend in construction deaths didn’t continue,” Wood said. “But five deaths are still too many and I know we can do more to reduce those risks.”

Historically, the lowest number of workers killed on the job was in 2005, when 31 fatalities occurred. There was an average of 55 workplace deaths per year in Oregon in the 1990s and 81
per year in the 1980s.

“We have made great strides in recent decades in reducing deaths as well as workplace injuries and illnesses,” said Cory Streisinger, DCBS director. “But, there are still Oregonians who don’t
get to go home to their families. We must work harder to ensure their safety every day.”

Oregon OSHA offers educational workshops, consultation services, training videos, and Web site information to help Oregon employers create or improve their safety and health programs.

Source: DCBS

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