Thought Leadership

I’m so lonesome I could die

January 8, 2010

One of Hank Williams’ classic songs is “I’m so lonesome I could cry.” A review of fatalities reported to OSHA shows that many deaths are lonesome experiences.

OSHA is now posting on it web site descriptions of on-the-job fatalities on a weekly basis. Employers must report these incidents to OSHA within eight hours.

What struck me looking over the most recent reports is how many on the job deaths occur not on assembly lines or on the shop floor, with victims surrounded by their coworkers, but when workers are off on their own.


Out of communication. Doing the most ordinary, commonplace tasks. Jobs that certainly don’t qualify as high-risk, in most cases anyway, if you were do conduct a risk assessment beforehand.

Take these incidences, for example:

Worker was driving north in patrol vehicle when an attempt was made to pass another northbound vehicle. The vehicles made contact and the worker's vehicle went off the road and hit a utility pole.

Apparently, no one else was in the car.

And remember, most job fatalities occur on the road, in motor vehicle crashes.

Worker was found unresponsive with head injuries next to an overturned stepladder. The worker never regained consciousness.

Many times victims are found after the fact, with the details of the incident never fully clear.

Worker was found in employee locker room and was taken to emergency room. Worker was pronounced dead shortly after of a possible heart attack.

Again, “worker was found”…

Worker suffered a heart attack and died while walking to meet a forklift driver to get supplies.

Here tragedy strikes in the most ordinary of circumstances, a worker walking to get supplies.

Worker was crushed when the equipment he was standing on slid off the trailer it was loaded on. The worker was crushed between the bag house and the remaining equipment on the ground.

Here one worker, standing on equipment, loses stability and his life.

Worker was riding an ATV, and it appears that the vehicle slipped on the steep terrain throwing the worker off and then landing on top of him.

“It appears” this is what happened because no one was present to witness the event.

Worker complained about not feeling well. The worker went home and collapsed about 3 hours later and died before taken to hospital.

Here a sick worker goes home alone and never returns.

Worker was installing copper flashing on a roof and was found unresponsive on the ground between the bases of two ladders.

Again, all there is to go on is “was found unresponsive.” No buddy present, no details.

Worker was delivering medical products and was run over by his own truck.

“Run over by his own truck.” A single vehicle incident.

Worker was walking from the parking lot to the entrance and was run over by a delivery truck.

Again, something as simple and everyday as a walk through a parking lot ends a life.

Worker was shoveling corn into a bucket of a bobcat and was found unresponsive.

“Was found unresponsive.” Who knows what really happened? No one will.

When you send workers out on their own to do a job, what kind of mindfulness training have they received? Because when they’re on their own, whether it’s on a roof, a road, or a telephone pole, it’s their own alertness that they must depend on.
You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

4/21/15 2:00 pm EDT

The Safety Selfie: It’s time to take a “snap shot” of your safety program and contemplate what others see

We all know perception is reality and that people perceive things differently. As a safety manager, your perception of your safety program almost certainly differs from that of your workers and your managers. We will use our “Safety Selfies” to expose weaknesses, real and perceived, and to talk about how best to make improvements.

ISHN Magazine


2015 May

In this month's issue of ISHN, check out articles about heat protection, radiation in the workplace, and welding fumes

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2015



For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. 



Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.