Thirty-six Illinois workers have died on the job since Jan. 1, 2016. That’s an average of one life lost each week in the Prairie State, and it represents a 28 percent increase in workplace deaths since 2013. Struck-by hazards and falls in construction and other industries combined to account for the majority of workplace fatalities.
The tragedies that befell two men are sobering reminders of preventable workplace dangers:
- A 47-year-old laborer was trimming trees from an aerial lift approximately 50 feet off the ground in January 2016 when a tree limb struck the lift's bucket and ejected the worker. He died as a result of injuries in the fall. OSHA cited his employer for failing to ensure use of a harness by the worker, require hard hats and not reporting the fatality within 8 hours of the event.
- A 36-year old-truck driver securing a load on a flatbed truck died after a powered industrial vehicle struck him in February 2016. OSHA cited his employer for failing to provide training and evaluation and failing to require the use of wheel blocks/chocks when parking PIVs on an incline.
"These injuries, illness and workplace deaths that are occurring in Illinois are preventable," said Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA's regional director in Chicago. "Employers must develop good safety and health programs to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. These programs should include management leadership, worker participation and hazard identification. Properly employed, a culture of safety can be created in any workplace."
To reduce risk of job related illness, injuries and fatalities OSHA is calling on Illinois employers to:
- Evaluate for workplace hazards
- Ensure machinery, tools and work areas are in good working order.
- Develop procedures to eliminate hazards.
- Provide personal protective equipment to employers and enforce its use.
- Train employees on safe operating procedures and retrain frequently.
- Encourage employees to report workplace hazards.
Since Jan. 1, 2015, employers have been required to report any severe work-related injury - defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye - to OSHA within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within 8 hours remains in force. In the first full year of the new requirement, employers nationwide reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations.
Nationwide, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 30, 2016, OSHA initiated 2,709 workplace inspections in response to employer reported referrals. These included 2,052 employer reported hospitalizations of workers and 972 reports of amputation injuries sustained by workers.
In Illinois, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 30, 2016, the agency initiated 636 workplace inspections in response to employer reported referrals. These included 425 employer reported hospitalizations of workers and 284 reports of amputation injuries sustained by workers.
OSHA also offers compliance assistance, tips, free consultation for small and medium size businesses, educational materials, training and other information to employers and workers on common workplace safety hazards and how to prevent illness and injury.
The free Illinois On-site Consultation Program phone number is (800) 972-4216. On-site Consultation Program information is available at OSHA's Web site, www.osha.gov/consultation.