A new report prepared by the South Florida Council on Occupational Safety and Health highlights the number of workplace fatalities in Florida with a focus on Southeast Florida. Florida regularly places in the top three states each year for workplace fatalities with industry trends closely following the national trends.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports construction, transportation and warehousing, and administrative and waste services as the industries with the highest fatality rates nationwide and in Florida. BLS statistics report 239 deaths in Florida in fiscal year 2013.
An OSHA source cites 30 workplace deaths in South Florida from May 30, 2014 through September 30, 2014 with an additional 22 work-related deaths in Florida from October 1, 2014 through early February 2015.
Worker deaths range from a man being pulled into a wood chipper to another being buried alive at an excavation site. Many if not all of these workplace fatalities could have been prevented if employers and employees were adhering to OSHA workplace standards.
Employers should establish comprehensive injury and illness prevention programs to promote the identification and control of workplace hazards and an environment should be created in the workplace that encourages workers to speak up about workplace dangers in order to ensure both their safety and the safety of their co-workers.
Jeanette Smith is the Executive Director of South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice.