By: Thomas Carson
Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities.
In the U.S., do you know how many worker fatalities there are each year?
In a recent episode of my safety storytellers podcast, my guest Scott DeBow mentioned that somewhere between 4,700 or 4,800 Americans die each year in workplace accidents. He’s right—on OSHA’s website, it says: “4,764 workers died on the job in 2020.”
I’ve of course heard that statistic before, but it still shocks me every single time I think of it.
If you’re a safety professional, do you have an understanding of what causes such an unacceptably high number of fatalities? Sometimes, for me at least, it’s hard to pinpoint the actual cause of a particular incident that resulted in a death.
We can say that it’s related to limited resources. Or that it’s about workers not having clear boundaries. Or that it’s just poor choices.
Suffice to say, I think that there are two ways that we, as safety professionals, can reduce the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities (referred to as SIF) occurring in a particular workplace.
(1) Learn about SIF
- Figure out what worker behavior could potentially cause SIF.
- Determine what procedures could be adopted to reduce the chance of SIF.
(2) Educate Workers on SIF Exposure
- Be straightforward with workers about actual past incidents of SIF in your industry.
- Talk with workers about so-called “near misses” that almost resulted in an injury or a fatality.
- Teach workers ways they can prevent SIF before they occur.
I want to thank Scott DeBow for taking the time to talk with me about some of these topics in a recent episode of the Sospes safety storytellers podcast. Scott is an Health, Safety & Environmental (HSE) expert who works for Avetta, a provider of supply chain risk management software. With around two decades of risk and occupational safety experience, I really appreciated talking with him.