People of Northwest Public Radio
Wed March 14, 2012
Washington Workplace Fatalities Fall To Lowest In Decades
Fifty-three people died on the job in Washington state last year. It was the least deadly year in Washington workplaces in three decades.
The number of workplace deaths dropped more than 40 percent compared to the year before, when 93 Washingtonians died on the job. That's according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industries.
"We've seen a downward trend in workplace fatalities for a few years now," says Hector Castro, a spokesperson with L and I.
"You'd like to be able to take credit for it, put all the credit on improvements in workplace safety," he says. "But you have to recognize that the economy is likely a factor as well. There are fewer people working, and that's going to have an impact on the number of people who are in a position to suffer a fatal injury at work."
Labor and Industries officials say two of the most dangerous sectors, manufacturing and the agriculture-forestry-fishing sector, simply had fewer workers last year.
In prior years, accidents involving heavy machinery have killed the most people. But last year it was motor vehicles. Most of those deaths involved truck drivers.
All but five of the state's workplace fatalities were men. The most dangerous industries like manufacturing, construction, farming and logging continue to be male-dominated fields. No farmworkers died last year, and only two loggers.
Dept. of Labor and Industries press release: