As construction professionals, it feels like we’re always thinking about safety — and yet, our industry is still one of the most high-risk. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in five worker deaths occurs in construction, accounting for nearly a quarter of all worker fatalities in the United States.
The New View is fundamentally the application of systems thinking to workplace health and safety. It considers safety an emergent property of the system. So what does that jargon mean? Instead of focusing on an individual thing, the organization steps back and takes a broader view.
In 2017, 5,147 workers in the U.S. were killed on the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, down slightly from 5.190 in 2016. The fatal injury rate in 2017 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time employees. Three or four people out of 100,000. Not close to one percent. Meaning most everyone escapes being touched by a work-related death.
Nearly three workers die every week (as calculated over a five-year period) from exposure to electricity – a total of 739 deaths during that period. One-fifth of the victims were self-employed. Most fatalities (417) were caused by direct exposure to electricity, such as touching a live wire.
A renaissance in safety and health thinking is taking place as rates for fatal and serious injuries and illnesses continue unabated. This movement is re-examining of some of the concepts that underpin the safety and health profession.