Safety industry professionals have made great strides in reducing the number of workplace injuries and fatalities in the U.S. In fact, the number of deaths at work has steadily declined over the last 30 years. That said, workplace accidents still took the lives of 4,405 workers in 2013. Think about that for a second. Every single day that year 12 people went to work but didn’t come home. This number is still far too high, given what we know today about employee safety, chiefly because many of these incidents could have been prevented. Therefore, breaking down the most common types of accidents by industry will reveal the key safety blind spots for each.
Some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others, and as expected, those industries saw the greatest number of fatalities. Acknowledging that a percentage of these deaths were unavoidable and did not result from an employee displaying unsafe behaviors, my goal here is to highlight areas in which a legitimate potential exists to reduce the number of avoidable fatalities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries identifies two general categories of industry type, each containing multiple subcategories. The key safety blind spots associated with the corresponding factor of the S.A.F.E. Model of SafetyDNATM represent the types of safety behaviors that increase the risk of being involved in a safety incident.Goods Producing
- Natural resources and mining
- Trade, transportation, and utilities
- Financial activities
- Professional and business services
- Educational and health services
- Leisure and hospitality
- Other services
As you can see, common themes emerge across industries, specifically falls, exposures, and striking/being struck by objects. However, the most salient safety blind spots can depend on the work context at a particular organization. Managers can use this information to update their safety programs with an added focus on changing the critical safety behaviors related to each blind spot, which in turn will reduce employee risk exposures and safety incidents.