ASSE Regional VP Comments on Virginia Workplace Fatality Statistics
The American Society of Safety Engineers’ Regional Vice President James H. Morris, III, of Virginia Beach, noted, “Our sympathy goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of the 141 people who lost their lives in 2007 in Virginia due to workplace injuries. We reiterate the commitment of our ASSE members, 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals, to continue to work around the clock to make sure that the millions of people who go to work return home safely every day in Virginia and throughout the world.”
Virginia officials announced recently that there were 141 workplace fatalities in the state in 2007 compared with 165 in 2006. Like the rest of the nation, the majority of those fatalities were transportation related followed by falls.
“This is great progress, but we still have 141 workers who went to work and did not come home,” Morris said today. “We’ve come a long way, but all of us, as employees, supervisors, and business owners have to ensure that our work environments – including the roads – are as safe as possible, and workers can come home in at least as good of shape as when they went to work. Good safety practices, simply put, are good business.”
Overall, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reported in September that there were 5,488 workplace fatalities in 2007 nationwide compared with 5,840 in 2006.
“With the expanded ongoing efforts of our members the past few years at increasing fleet safety to address the annual increase of on-the-job transportation-related fatalities we are pleased to see a reduction in those fatalities, but concerned that they still continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths,” Morris continued. “We will continue, through communications, sharing best practices, symposiums, mentoring and more, to work to reduce these roadway tragedies and all other workplace incidents that cause injury, illness and death.”
ASSE is also concerned that nationally homicides were reported by the BLS to be the second leading cause of on-the-job deaths, an increase of 13 percent in 2007, with 491 people dying as a result of a shooting and 39 people died from being stabbed. The BLS notes that workplace homicides involving police officers and supervisors of retail sales workers both saw substantial increases in 2007.
In May of 2004 the “Workplace Violence Survey of ASSE members & White Paper” done by the ASSE Risk Management and Insurance (RM/I) Practice Specialty found that many companies and organizations in all industries had yet to address the problem of workplace violence. Noting that one size does not fit all, the ASSE RM/I members suggested employers consider doing the following to address the prevention of workplace violence:
• Officers and directors – establish a workplace violence prevention policy; upper management must promote a clear antiviolence corporate policy; and, establish and maintain security policies.
• Human resource managers – examine and improve hiring practices; implement prescreening techniques; utilize background checks; encourage employees to report threats or violent behavior; establish termination policies; and, provide post-termination counseling.
• Risk management and safety, health and environmental departments – train all employees in the warning signs of aggressive or violent behavior; train management in threat assessment and de-escalation techniques; conduct a formal workplace violence risk assessment; increase security as needed; develop and communicate a contingency plan to all employees which includes crisis management; review insurance coverage and verify coverage and exclusions; and, identify a defensive strategy.
“As we move forward ASSE and its members will continue to work to protect people, property and the environment. They work in all areas of safety including: environmental, system safety, risk management, mining, transportation, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, fire protection, radiation, chemical process, construction and much, much more utilizing safety science and promoting good leadership and management techniques,” Morris said.
Morris’ region includes ASSE chapters in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Kuwait. For more information please go to http://www.asse-region6.org/.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org.