Oregon: Construction deaths down in 2008, but trucking fatalities on the rise
Forty-four people covered by Oregon's workers' comp system died on the job in 2008, according to Michael Wood, administrator of the state Occupational Safety and Health Division. Wood unveiled the data, which was compiled by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, at the 2009 Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference.
The 2008 total is significantly higher than 2007's total of 35 fatalities. The 2008 figure includes eight workers who were killed in a firefighting helicopter crash. The workers were among 15 individuals who died in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry.
The second highest concentration of deaths was in truck transportation, which accounted for six fatalities. Overall, 12 of the deaths -- more than 27 percent of the total -- were the result of motor vehicle crashes. Oregon is one of a few states that requires workplace motor vehicle accidents to be reported. Since 2007, Oregon OSHA has been analyzing data from the collisions and from employers about the use of vehicles for business and driver safety procedures.
Wood said the numbers showed a significant improvement in construction, where there were 12 deaths in 2007 and five deaths in 2008.
"I am pleased to see the upward trend in construction deaths didn't continue," he said. "But five deaths are still too many, and I know we can do more to reduce those risks."
Historically, the lowest number of workers killed on the job in Oregon was in 2005 when 31 fatalities occurred. According to previous data, in the 1990s there was an average of 55 workplace deaths per year in Oregon and 81 per year in the 1980s.
"We have made great strides in recent decades in reducing deaths as well as workplace injuries and illnesses," said Cory Streisinger, director of the DCBS. "But there are still Oregonians who don't get to go home to their families. We must work harder to ensure their safety every day."
Complete data on all deaths caused by injuries in Oregon workplaces -- regardless of whether they are covered by workers' comp -- are computed separately and reported in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. That report is not expected for release until the fall.
April 9, 2009
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