According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released in December 2017, there were 5,190 work fatalities in the U.S. in 2016. This represents a 7 percent increase from 2015. As for which industries were the most hazardous, the Bureau found that the trucking industry saw the most fatalities: 918 in all that year. The second highest number was in the farming industry with 260 reported deaths. South Carolina residents may want to know about the other figures that are included in the report.
Heat and humidity are part of life in South Carolina. Unfortunately, this means that outdoor workers in the state have a heightened risk for heat stroke, a serious and potentially fatal condition. Heat strokes can strike workers even in weather that only reaches the high 80s. Late spring and early summer heat waves present the greatest risks because people might not be acclimated to higher temperatures or mindful of the dangers. Fortunately, employers and supervisors have many strategies to call upon to prevent heat strokes or catch them early.
The adage, 'Watch where you're going" certainly applies to all South Carolina workers, especially those who may be employed in the construction trades. Workers who don't pay attention to where they're going could end up dead as a result of a slip, fall or trip.
Workers in South Carolina who are electricians or who work with electricity may use permanent electrical safety devices. This is used when performing an absence of voltage test and helps increase the likelihood that people will only be exposed to zero voltage. After years of its successful use, the safety organization UL has made a product specification for a permanently mounted absence of voltage testers.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2016, collectors of refuse and recyclable material had the fifth highest fatal injury rates among employees in civilian occupations. Their fatality risk was 10 times greater than that of most other workers. Seven sanitation workers died in the first 10 days of 2018 alone according to the Solid Waste Association of North America. Workers in South Carolina may wonder what is being done to reduce fatalities in this industry.
Every year in South Carolina and across the U.S., companies and insurers pay out hundreds of billions of dollars in workers compensation claims. Reviewing these claims can be a drawn-out process wherever accurate data is lacking. Worldwide, workplace accidents take the lives of more than 1,000 people every day and injure over 500 people every minute.
Construction employers in South Carolina are likely aware that falls from elevated surfaces are a frequent cause of injury in this field. Over the past five years, Nationwide Insurance has processed over 10,000 workers' compensation claims among construction companies, and 30 percent of them involved falls.
For the fifth year in a row, OSHA is hosting its National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Together with NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training, OSHA encourages all employers in the construction industry to shut down operations at some point between May 7 and May 11 and address whatever factors put their workers at risk for falls. This is important since in South Carolina, as elsewhere in the U.S., falls are the leading cause of death in the industry.
The risks of loud noises in the workplace for workers in South Carolina can extend far beyond hearing loss according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC's research found a high association between loud, noisy workplaces and the development of high blood pressure and high cholesterol among workers regularly exposed to the loud sounds. As both symptoms are a significant risk for heart disease, the leading killer of people across the country, these conditions indicate that noisy workplaces can pose a major health risk for workers in mining, construction and other industries where such noise is common.
OSHA regularly enters into alliances with trade groups, labor unions and other organizations to help them learn more about their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Both employees and employers in South Carolina and elsewhere may benefit from taking part in the Alliance Program. Recently, OSHA renewed its alliance with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).