Workplace danger is an unfortunate reality for many workers. That danger results in about 15 deaths a day, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That comes out to over 5,000 deaths a year.
While the death rate is certainly too high, it’s nothing compared to the injury rate. 2.8 million injuries and illnesses that were severe enough to warrant missing work were reported by private sectors in 2019.
According to the National Safety Council, the top four most dangerous industries of 2019 were construction, government (The government sector includes federal law enforcement.), agriculture, and transportation/warehousing. These four industries were tied for the most dangerous because they each stood out in different areas.
Construction had the most workplace deaths overall, while agriculture had the highest rate per 100,000 workers. The government sector had the most non-fatal illnesses and injuries resulting in time off work, while transportation/warehousing had the highest rate per 10,000 workers.
These are grim statistics, and they highlight industries in desperate need of improvement. With that in mind, let’s talk about how to avoid deadly dangers and save lives in the most hazardous industries.
Fight The Fatal Four
The construction industry has what’s called the “fatal four.” This refers to the four most common deadly events which are falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, or getting caught in/between an object. Falls account for 39.9% of construction deaths, being electrocuted accounts for 8.5%, getting struck totals 8.4%, and becoming caught accounts for 1.4%.
While the fatal four are mainly contained to the construction industry, they are threats that can be faced in other sectors as well. Many people work with heights, machinery, or electricity in a variety of fields, so let’s talk about how to prevent injury when you can’t avoid the factors that might cause it.
First, let’s address the construction industry. If that’s the sector you work in, the best step you can take to help promote safety is to take on responsibility for it. To do that, you can study to become a licensed contractor.
A contractor is responsible for maintaining safety on a job site, so you’ll be able to prevent accidents and lower the death rate first hand. The study program covers everything you need for the contractor’s exam, or exams, depending on which state you’re in. Some states, including Tennessee, may require you to take two different tests.
If you aren’t in the construction industry, there are still steps you can take to prevent the fatal four.
- Pay close attention to your surroundings when operating or walking near any machinery, including cars.
- Don’t perform any task requiring going to an extreme height unless you have been properly trained and have fall-prevention equipment.
- Never work with electricity if you’re not an electrician. If you see loose wires, broken or damaged cords, or a downed power line, call a professional at once.
- Don’t walk between an object that could move. If you can become trapped in an area by a piece of moving equipment, it’s an area you shouldn’t be in.
Preventing the fatal four would lower work-related deaths dramatically, so do your part whenever you can.
See Something, Say Something, Stop Something
You’ve probably heard of “see something, say something.” It’s a popular phrase in many industries that sums up the idea that safety is everyone’s business.
The idea is, if you see someone doing something unsafe, you should politely say something to them or a manager, so the danger can be avoided. For example, if you see a fellow agricultural worker trying to change the blades on a machine without gloves, you could quickly, but nicely, remind them that they need hand protection.
It’s an excellent system that can prevent many accidents, but there’s an additional step you can take to maintain safety. That step is “stop something.”
After you’ve been on a job for a while, you may develop shortcuts. Little ways that you save time or energy that may or may not be safe. You rationalize it with the idea that you know what you’re doing.
Even if that’s true, it doesn’t prevent you from being injured. Most workplace accidents occur when someone is doing a task they’ve done hundreds of times. It’s time to say something to yourself, and stop taking unnecessary risks.
They endanger you, and newer employees who may pick up the habit. The easiest way to prevent an accident is to stop dangerous behavior before an accident occurs.
Prioritize Safe Practices
How important is health and safety in your industry? Often, it’s sadly neglected in favor of issues that are seen as more urgent. When that’s the case, you must prioritize your safety, even if your workplace doesn’t.
Some basic practices you can incorporate into your day to improve safety include:
- Ensuring that all of your weapons are safely worn and stored. This includes ensuring that any included safety features are enabled on firearms. While this is mainly aimed at those in the government sector, it’s also worth noting in general.
- Wearing all PPE that’s necessary for your job. Hardhats, eyeshields, gloves, workboots, or in light of reasons events, a face mask.
- Asking for assistance lifting heavy objects, especially when they must be lifted outside of your power zone. The power zone for lifting is between mid-thigh and mid-chest. This is the area where the most weight can be lifted with the least damage.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility, make sure you’re doing your part.
Everyone can help save lives in the most hazardous industries by being aware of the deadly dangers and promoting the innovation of new safety measures.