The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its final numbers for last year and the news was not good. In 2011, 25 workers died in workplace accidents in South Florida. The number of on the job fatalities rose to 33 last year. Many of the incidents fit familiar patterns for workplace deaths. The majority of the victims were men. The deaths occurred in falls, equipment failures, transportation accidents and other, familiar incidents. Many of the victims worked in construction, for roofing companies or the transportation industry.
All across the State, the construction industry was the source of the largest number of worker deaths. Construction workers are often subjected to difficult working conditions. They must deal with heavy equipment, they must work in high places, they deal with a rapidly changing workplace, and often must work with or around new people who may lack proper safety training and equipment. Of the 227 workers killed in Florida in 2012, 41 came from the construction industry.
The President of AFL-CIO Florida indicated that the penalties for employers who expose workers to unsafe conditions are not sufficient. Holding employers accountable for fatal worker injuries is an important aspect of safety. Maintaining a safe work environment and providing employees with proper safety equipment and training takes time and money. A company that can cut corners and endanger the health and safety of its workers will likely do so if there are no repercussions.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Work-related death toll rises,” by Marcia Heroux Pounds, 3 June 2013