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Construction Depot

Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

September 16, 2015

Emoticon for dead

The other workplace fatalities

This year (as of Sept. 15), there have been 44 initial reports of workplace fatalities in Oregon. Of those 44 fatalities, 19 were caused byphysical trauma – falls, motor vehicle accidents, machinery accidents, and similar events that are typically included in official fatality reports. The other 24 workers (56 percent) died from "natural causes" – events such as heart attack, stroke, and other medical conditions that happened at work but were not necessarily work related. In 2014, the number of reported workplace fatalities was 31; not included in that number were 22 others whose deaths fell into the category of natural causes.

Although there has been nearly a 50 percent drop in the rate of cardiovascular disease nationwide over the past 20 years as more people become aware of the importance of controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, there is still work to do. Nearly 800,000 Americans still die of heart-related conditions each year, and their illnesses cost about $320 billion annually, according to the American Heart Association.

Is there anything we can do to lower these numbers? Successful workplace wellness programs can be an effective tool in reaching workers who might be at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. And the benefits of such programs can also help family members achieve healthier lifestyles, too.

Although many larger organizations have developed successful workplace wellness programs, the time and the resources necessary to achieve good results can be challenging for employers who run small businesses.

If you are a small-business owner, an excellent way to learn how to do workplace wellness right is to check out the NIOSH Total Worker Health initiative. What is Total Worker Health? As NIOSH Director John Howard puts it, "Total Worker Health is more than the sum of its parts – protection and promotion – it is a synthesis of all aspects of health that create worker well-being."

One way for small business owners to get started building an effective wellness program is to bring their employees together, find out what their health concerns are, and let them develop the program after understanding the essential elements of the Total Worker Health program.

Want to learn more? NIOSH Total Worker Health:



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