Injury prevention

Criminal prosecutions, control strategies will prevent worker deaths, National COSH says

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Longmeadow, MA – Broader use of hazard prevention strategies and threats of stiffer consequences for workplace safety violations will help reduce the number of annual worker deaths, a group of safety advocates stated during an April 23 press conference.

Despite progress made over the past several decades in reducing the number of occupational deaths, an average of 12 workers are still killed on the job every day, Mary Vogel, executive director with the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said during the press conference.

Criminal prosecution of employers for workplace violations is extremely rare. Vogel said that although increasing prosecutions would not eliminate all workplace fatalities, the strategy should be used “when appropriate.”

Hazard prevention strategies based on the Hierarchy of Controls are another effective method for ending workplace deaths, according to Peter Dooley, senior consultant with National COSH. During the press conference, Dooley listed several recent workplace fatalities he claims could have been prevented with such strategies.

National COSH also announced the release of its annual report, Not an Accident: Preventable Deaths, 2015. The report includes case studies of recent worker deaths, prevention strategies and National COSH’s policy platform.

It was released in advance of Workers Memorial Day, which will take place April 28. On that day, National COSH plans to release a database detailing the circumstances of 1,500 worker deaths.