Number of deaths continues recent trend
Salem, OR — Thirty-one people covered by the Oregon workers' compensation system died on the job during 2014, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced today. It's up slightly from 2013's figure of 30 deaths, but continues to be consistent with fatality counts in recent years.
The year 2010 marked the state's all-time low of 17 deaths. That figure was likely tied, in part, to the economic downturn. In 2012, there were 30 deaths and, in 2011, 28 people died on the job.
State and local government saw the largest concentration of deaths in 2014, with five workers killed in that industry. The agriculture sector, which includes logging operations, had four deaths - the same as transportation and warehousing.
"Although Oregon workplaces are safer today than in previous decades, there are still far too many preventable tragedies each year," said Patrick Allen, director of DCBS. "We must continue our commitment to eliminating hazards in the workplace so that all Oregon workers can come home safely at the end of the day."
Workplace fatalities are down significantly compared to previous decades. In the 1990s, there was an average of 55 workplace deaths per year. In the 1980s, the average was 81 deaths. The statewide rate of reported workplace injuries and illnesses has also decreased more than 50 percent since the late 1980s. Oregon started tracking workplace deaths in 1943.
"When we discuss the fatalities each year, it is a sobering reminder our past success can become, in some measure, a challenge to our future achievements," said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator. "We have pushed the numbers down over the past decades. But we will not push them still lower unless we can persuade each other - and ourselves - that they can and must continue to go lower."
Oregon OSHA offers educational workshops, consultation services, training videos, and website information to help Oregon employers create or improve their safety and health programs.
DCBS compiles fatality statistics from records of death claim benefits paid by Oregon workers' compensation insurers during the calendar year. The data excludes workplace deaths involving self-employed individuals, city of Portland police and fire employees, federal employees, and incidents occurring in Oregon to individuals with out-of-state employers. These workers are either not subject to Oregon workers' compensation coverage requirements or are covered by other compensation systems.
Deaths that occur during a prior calendar year may appear in the compensable fatality count for a later year because of the time required to process a claim. The fatality count for 2013 changed from 29 to 30 due to a change in status discovered after the reference year had closed.
Complete data on all deaths caused by injuries in Oregon workplaces, regardless of whether they are covered by workers' compensation insurance, are computed separately and reported in the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) administered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2014 CFOI count is not expected for release until fall 2015.
The link to the full DCBS fatality report can be found here: www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/protection/Pages/compensable-fatalities.aspx