If you die in on the job, statistically, it will be in a way that you probably don’t worry too much about. When it comes to safety, most of us exercise the most care protecting ourselves from the hazards least likely to harm us and conversely are fairly cavalier about those things that pose the greatest threat.


Consider the top causes of workplace fatalities and ask yourself how often you put yourself in harm’s way.

1. Driving.The number one way in which workers die in the workplace is in a fatal traffic accident. Now many of you are thinking, “that’s absurd! I’m not a truck driver, how am I likely to die in a traffic accident while working?” You don’t have to be a professional driver to die at the wheel in a workplace fatality. Driving across town to a meeting, to a sales call, or even to the hardware store to buy cleaning solutions puts you in a position where you could quite conceivably die in a car crash. Is it more likely that you will die behind the wheel if you spend more time on the job behind the wheel? Of course, but that is not to say that you won’t die running an errand during the workday.

2. Falling. Here again, you probably blissfully wander through the workplace thinking that because the nature of your work doesn’t put you high above the floor that you won’t be killed in a fall. But statistically, the chances that you will be injured in a fall are surprisingly high, and 25% of all fatal falls occur from heights of less than 10 feet (generally the height at which fall protection is required). Don’t find yourself climbing so you think you’re safe from a death from a fall? Think again. A fair number of deaths from falls occur when people fall into a pit, hole, or some other depression (death from below). I had a great uncle who fell into a lime pit and died (or so the story goes, they never found a body and he may have just wandered off somewhere). But that possibility notwithstanding, there are plenty of people who do indeed die from these kinds of incidents.

3. Long-Term Exposure. Long-term exposure to carcinogens or other toxins are insidious killers. Since the effects aren’t immediate and the symptoms can take decades to present, by the time you know you are at risk it may be too late. We don’t often see these killers as “workplace fatalities” but as far as I’m concerned dead is dead and if it is caused by the work you do; it counts.

4. Struck By An Industrial Vehicle. As hand-held distractions grow pedestrians are increasingly killed because they wander blindly and stupidly into the paths of deadly vehicles. The increase in workplace deaths caused by pedestrians being struck by an industrial vehicle (from trucks, to Segways to golf carts, to bicycles) is parallel to the rise in workplace distraction, and yet we continue to place our lives in the hands of a bunch of angry birds.

So why do we spend so much time protecting ourselves from remote hazards while running the risk gauntlet with more mundane hazards?

Simple: fear.

We drive everyday and when we do we are statistically more distracted, we take reckless chances that we dismiss as justifiable, and we generally teach ourselves that our unsafe driving habits are safe because probability has yet to catch up with us.

We don’t fear long-term exposure for a lot of reasons, with the ardent belief that we won’t be doing this crummy job long enough for the toxins to make a difference.

And beside,  can we really get freaked out about something that is only potentially dangerous to us?

 I’m not saying it’s right, but it is prevalent and its dangerous.