Almost 2 million lives lost annually to workplace exposures

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
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Photo: World Health Organization

Geneva, Switzerland — Work-related injuries and illnesses resulted in 1.9 million worker deaths worldwide in 2016, according to estimates recently released by the World Health Organization and International Labor Organization.

In a report issued Sept. 17, the organizations say the majority of the deaths were linked to cardiovascular or respiratory diseases. Workplace injuries accounted for 19% of the deaths, or around 360,000.

“It’s shocking to see so many people literally being killed by their jobs,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release. “Our report is a wake-up call to countries and businesses to improve and protect the health and safety of workers by honoring their commitments to provide universal coverage of occupational health and safety services.”

WHO and ILO looked at 19 workplace risk factors, including long working hours and exposure to air pollution and noise, as well as ergonomic risk factors. Working long hours contributed to an estimated 750,000 deaths. Exposure to air pollution (i.e., particulate matter, fumes or gases) was linked to 450,000 deaths.

“These estimates provide important information on the work-related burden of disease,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in the release, “and this information can help to shape policies and practices to create healthier and safer workplaces. Governments, employers and workers can all take actions to reduce exposure to risk factors at the workplace. Risk factors can also be reduced or eliminated through changes in work patterns and systems. As a last resort, personal protective equipment can also help to protect workers whose jobs mean they cannot avoid exposure.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Study links workplace exposure to ‘disproportionately high’ rate of COVID-19 deaths among Latinos

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

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Columbus, OH — Workplace exposure to COVID-19 is a substantial factor in the “disproportionately high” rate of cases and deaths among Latinos in the United States when compared with whites, results of a recent study by researchers from Ohio State University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee show.

Reviewing public and restricted data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as “individual-level information on prior health conditions and mortality from case data,” the researchers found that, as of Sept. 30, Latinos made up 41% of all recorded COVID-19 deaths in the country while making up 19% of the population.

Using CDC’s case surveillance data, the researchers found “little evidence” to support higher proportion of preexisting health conditions, unequal health care access/quality and multigenerational households as potential causes.

“Among the reported cases, Hispanics had fewer preexisting health conditions than whites, and there were no significant differences between working-age Hispanics and whites in the percentage of infections that resulted in death,” a report published in OSU’s Ohio State News states. “Hence, the researchers said, the case data is not supportive of preexisting comorbidities and/or lower quality health care being driving factors in the excess Hispanic mortality.”

The “greatest excess in cases” were among Latinos of working age – 30-59 years old.

“There was no evidence before this paper that really demonstrated that the excess cases were precisely in these working age groups,” study co-author Reanne Frank, professor of sociology at OSU, said in the report. “Particularly for frontline and essential workers, among whom Hispanics are overrepresented, COVID-19 is an occupational disease that spreads at work. Hispanics were on the front lines and they bore a disproportionate cost.”

Study co-author D. Phuong (Phoenix) Do, associate professor of public health policy and administration at UWM, noted that the findings are “applicable to any disease that is highly infectious,” adding, “if we know the source of the spread, then we can tackle it head on. We can’t stop the economy – we’ve learned that. There has to be a way to protect the workers and enforce protection.”

The study was published online April 1 in the journal Demographic Research.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Half of confined-space ag incidents last year were fatal

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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West Lafayette, IN — At least 64 incidents involving confined spaces in the agriculture industry were documented in 2020, and half were fatal, according to an annual report recently released by Purdue University.

The 32 deaths are more than confined space fatalities reported in the mining industry (29) last year. Of the agricultural deaths, 20 involved grain entrapment. Falls, entanglement in grain-handling equipment and asphyxiation/poisoning each contributed to three deaths, while the causes of the three remaining cases were classified as “other.”

The university’s agricultural and biological engineering department has investigated and documented incidents involving grain storage and handling facilities since the 1970s. According to its records, around 60% of incidents involving agricultural confined spaces have resulted in a fatality.

The report, citing a 2013 study, notes that because many agricultural facilities aren’t covered by OSHA injury and illness reporting requirements, around 30% of cases go unreported or undocumented.

“The number of documented fatal cases continues to be higher than the number of nonfatal cases for all confined space incidents, further suggesting an underreporting of nonfatal incidents,” the report states.

Illinois, with 17, led all states with the most documented cases of agricultural confined space incidents – nonfatal and fatal. Next were Minnesota and North Dakota, each with seven.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Fatal Injury Trends in the Construction Industry

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
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Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation Flickr

Silver Spring, MD — The number of construction workers killed on the job reached its highest level in at least nine years in 2019, according to a new report from CPWR – The Center for Construction Training and Research.

Using 2011-2019 data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, researchers identified 1,102 construction worker fatalities in 2019 – a 41.1% increase from the initial year of the study period.

The increase in fatal injuries was especially pronounced among Hispanic workers, soaring 89.8% over the course of the nine-year period and far outpacing the group’s 55% rise in employment over that time.

Workers in the 45-64 age group accounted for the most fatalities (241) between 2016 and 2019. However, the 65-and-older age group had the highest rate of fatal injuries over those four years, at 22.0 per 100,000 full-time employees – more than double that of the 45-64 age group’s rate of 9.6.

Falls and struck-by, caught-in/between and electrocution hazards – known as the Construction Focus Four as part of an OSHA safety initiative – resulted in 709 deaths in 2019, or 64.3% of all fatalities in the industry that year. Fatal falls to a lower level rose to 401 in 2019 and accounted for 36.4% of all fatalities that year – a 25% jump from the previous year.

Struck-by fatalities were up 7.6% during the study period, including a 21.2% increase in struck-by fatalities involving a transport vehicle. Meanwhile, around 7 out of 10 caught-in/between fatalities involved workers being crushed in collapsing materials.

The numbers of fatal falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds all rose during the study period. In 2019, fatal falls from roofs totaled 146 – a 28.1% increase over the previous year. CPWR advises employers to proactively address fall hazards and provide workers with sufficient protection, such as personal fall arrest systems.

The report was published in the February edition of CPWR’s Data Bulletin.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

MSHA: Deaths among coal miners reach ‘historic low’ in 2020

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Twenty-nine miners died on the job in 2020, marking the sixth straight year the annual total has remained below 30, the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Jan. 13.

Although last year’s fatality total represents a 7.4% increase from the 2019 total of 27, MSHA reports that coal miners represented five of the 2020 deaths – “a historic low.”

Additionally, no seat belt-related deaths were recorded for the first time in MSHA’s 44-year history. The agency also reported all-time-low average concentrations of respirable dust and respirable quartz in underground coal mines, as well as dust and quartz exposure for miners at the highest risk of overexposure to respirable dust.

MSHA credits a diverse educational campaign as a contributing factor for a significant decrease in miner deaths related to powered haulage. Such fatalities represented 21% of the overall total in 2020 after accounting for about half of all fatalities in 2017 and 2018.

In 2020, MSHA “focused on improving safety in several areas, including falls from height and truck-loading operations,” administrator David Zatezalo said in a press release. “We also focused on chronic problem areas such as disproportionate accidents among contractors and inexperienced miners. In 2019, contractor deaths accounted for 41% of deaths at mines. In 2020, they were 28%.”

According to MSHA, about 230,000 miners work in approximately 11,500 metal/nonmetal mines nationwide, while around 64,000 work in about 1,000 U.S. coal mines.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.