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Oregon workplace deaths still on decline


A total of 29 people covered by the Oregon workers’ compensation system died on the job during 2013, the Department of Consumer and Business Services announced Wednesday .

It’s a slight decrease from 2012’s figure of 30 deaths and continues a downward trend seen in recent years.

The year 2010 marked the state’s all-time low of 17 deaths. That figure was likely tied, in part, to the economic downturn. In 2011, there were 28 deaths and, in 2009, 31 people died on the job.

Construction saw the largest concentration of deaths in 2013, with seven workers killed in that industry. Logging resulted in six deaths. The construction industry also accounted for a significant number of deaths in 2012 (five total), illustrating the high hazard nature of the work.

“Each workplace death illustrates the need to continue our commitment to preventing these tragedies,” said Patrick Allen, director of DCBS. “Although workplace safety in Oregon has improved significantly in recent decades, there is still much we can do to ensure all of our workers can come home to their families at the end of the day.”

On-the-job injuries have been on the decline in recent decades. In the 1990s, there was an average of 55 workplace deaths per year. In the 1980s, the average was 81 deaths. The statewide rate of reported workplace injuries and illnesses has also decreased more than 50 percent since the late 1980s. Oregon started tracking workplace deaths in 1943.

“While this report tends to confirm an overall downward trend in Oregon worker deaths, it also confirms what we know all too well,” said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA, a division of DCBS. “Too many workers die on the job in Oregon and those deaths can be prevented.”

Oregon OSHA offers educational workshops, consultation services, training videos, and website information to help Oregon employers create or improve their safety and health programs.

DCBS compiles fatality statistics from records of death claim benefits paid by Oregon workers’ compensation insurers during the calendar year.

The data reported may exclude workplace fatalities involving self-employed individuals, city of Portland police and fire employees, federal employees, and incidents occurring in Oregon to individuals with out-of-state employers. These workers are either not subject to Oregon workers’ compensation coverage requirements or are covered by other compensation systems.

Deaths that occur during a prior calendar year may appear in the compensable fatality count for a later year because of the time required to process a claim.

Complete data on all deaths caused by injuries in Oregon workplaces, regardless of whether they are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, are computed separately and reported in the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) administered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2013 CFOI count is not expected for release until fall 2014.

The link to the full DCBS fatality report can be found here:

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