I noticed a new and much-needed change on OSHA’s homepage today:  “Worker Fatalities.”

OSHA’s new leadership is rightfully reminding everyone who visits the agency’s website that everyday, workers are killed on the job.   The new, sobering feature provides a scrolling list of the horrendous (and preventable) ways that men and women die at work:

“Worker was struck by an exploding grinding wheel, during a grinding operation.”

“Worker was struck and pinned by two track-hoes.”

“Worker was catapulted out of the basket of an articulating truck mounted boom, during movement of the boom.”

“Worker, in a basket lifted up by a rough terrain forklift, was killed when the forklift rolled over.”

“Worker was crushed between the boom and controls while operating a knuckleboom truck.”

“Worker was asphyxiated, while in the process of unclogging a discharge hole in a 60-foot high silo. “

“Worker fell from the top of a 14 ft scaffold, while pressure washing containers aboard a cargo ship.”

“Worker fell 9 feet from a tubular welded scaffold, while performing drywall work.”

“Worker fell 40 feet to the ground while installing asphalt shingles.”

“Worker was struck and killed by a car while working an outdoor sale at a store.”

“Worker was electocuted while performing maintenance on a vending machine.”

I applaud OSHA’s leadership for putting this worker fatality information front-and-center on the agency’s website.  Now, anyone visiting the site will be reminded that our nation has a very long way to go in preventing workers from suffering fatal occupational injuries (say nothing of disabling injuries and work-related diseases.)   

This website change by OSHA is a good start, and a work in progress.   The most recent info posted is for the work-week ending August 28, reporting preliminary data from 18 fatalities.  [At least I think they are all fatalities.  One link is labled “Fatality Summaries”  while the other refers to “Fatality/ Catastrophes” which could include incidents involving the hospitalization of three or more workersIt’s not clear.]   

In each week’s report, the agency provides a weekly total of fatalities [or maybe it’s Fatalities and Catastrophes–the label says both] and will hopefully add a running annual total as enhances this feature.   So far, this “Worker Fatality” page offers summaries for five weeks, spanning from the week ending July 24 through August 28.    [At least Ithink it’s the “week ending” because all of the dates are Fridays.]  Interestingly, all five weekly reports show ZEROES for fatalities/catastrophes reported in the 26 OSHA State-Plan States, while over the same five-week period, 82 fatalities were reported to federal OSHA offices.   Are working conditions that much safer with State-run OSHA programs?   

Ah….probably not.   A footnote on each of the five reports says:

“Since there is no reporting requirement, a number of states have elected not to report their fatalities to OSHA.”

“Elect not to report”??   I suggest OSHA replace those ZEROES with data provided by whichever OSHA State-Plan States choose to report, AND list for all to see the States who have “elected not to report their fatalities to OSHA.”   Perhaps workers, family members and the public health community will elect to file a CASPA (Complaint About State Program Administration) about those federally-funded programs. 

If certain OSHA State-Plans elect not to report something as fundamental as fatality data to OSHA, what in the world else are they electing not to report???

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