Workplace deaths rise as California's economy recovers: Part I

Workplace deaths rise as California's economy recovers: Part I

California’s economy has shown significant signs of recovery in the last couple years. The Great Recession was devastating to certain industries throughout the state, but unemployment rates are falling, the economy is picking up and Californians are really getting back to work.

This should be nothing but good news. However, the unfortunate side effect of a rise in employment rates is a rise in workplace accidents, injuries and deaths. According to a recent news article, the annual rates of fatal workplace accidents in Southern California closely mirror the overall health of the economy.

An analysis of accident data by the Press-Enterprise shows that 2006 had the highest worker death rate in the 10-year period examined. This was just before the recession, when unemployment rates were at their lowest. The number of workplace deaths had dropped approximately 73 percent by 2009, when the full effects of the recession were being felt. By 2012 and 2013, fatal accident rates were climbing once again.

Some correlation is to be expected. After all, it stands to reason that more people working means more opportunities for on-the-job accidents. But we should not have to choose between a healthy economy and healthy/safe workers. The two are not mutually exclusive.

In many cases, serious injuries and deaths occur because tried-and-true safety protocols are not being followed. Industries like construction, heavy manufacturing and warehousing often experience “boom” periods during economic recovery. In their eagerness to keep up with demand, employers in these sectors often take shortcuts that favor production over safety.

Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion.

Source: The Press Enterprise, “ WORKPLACE SAFETY: As economy recovers, workplace deaths rise,” David Danelski, Oct. 27, 2014

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