Personal Injury

On-the-job deaths rise sharply in Washington state

Workplace deaths rose sharply in Washington state last year, according to a report on work-related fatalities released last week by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). The report says that 86 men and women were killed in 2010 due to job-related trauma – a steep 7.5 percent rise over 65 work-related fatalities in 2009 and the highest rate since 2006.

“Last year was a difficult one for worker safety, and this report demonstrates that,” said L&I Director Judy Schurke. “Behind these numbers are grieving families and traumatized co-workers. It is only with the continuing cooperation of labor, business and safety and health professionals that we can hope to prevent future deaths like these from happening.”

The Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) 2010 Work-Related Fatalities Report is based on data concerning workplace deaths in 2010. FACE is part of a federal program designed to identify, study, and reduce on-the-job fatalities in nine representative states, including Washington. The program is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“These tragic statistics demonstrate that workplace deaths occur with alarming frequency,” said SHARP Research Director Barbara Silverstein. “Our hope is that this report will encourage a broad discussion of safety and health in every work site in our state.”

According to the report, deaths involving farm workers, loggers, and fishing-industry workers accounted for 20 of the occupational fatalities in 2010. Seven of the workplace fatalities occurred in the Tesoro refinery explosion in Anacortes. Fatalities in the construction industry remained relatively low, accounting for seven of the 86 work-related deaths last year.