- Work-related fatalities reached 5,250 in 2018, a 2% rise from 2017's total of 5,147, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Dec. 17. The rate of work-related fatalities, however, remained at 3.5% per 100,000 full-time equivalent U.S. workers, said BLS.
- Transportation incidents accounted for 40% of all work-related incidents; driver/sales workers and truck drivers had the most fatalities. Fatalities involving unintentional overdoses from nonmedical drug or alcohol use increased 12%, representing the category's sixth consecutive annual increase. The data also revealed an 11% increase in work-related suicides.
- Citing BLS's results, the National Safety Council called on employers to do more to protect workers. "Workplace fatalities should never be considered a cost of doing business," the council said. "Employers need to take a systematic approach to safety that includes having policies, training and risk assessment techniques in place to address major causes of fatalities and injuries. Leadership needs to set the tone from the top and engage all workers in safety, identify hazards and measure safety performance using leading indicators to continuously improve."
HR pros can work to boost workplace safety, but that requires more than improvements in equipment and training, experts say.
Instead, HR must cultivate a culture of safety, which requires buy-in from managers and company leadership. According to one expert, HR can effect a culture overhaul in as little as 12 months with some hard work and what Jamie Notter, co-founder and consultant at Human Workplaces, calls "culture management." Culture has to go beyond just a buzzword; it has to become "a useable business tool," Notter previously told HR Dive.
But for a culture to be viewed as a serious business imperative, CEOs need to "treat leaders' responsibility to drive culture the same way they treat other business activities," a recent Gartner report said. "Investors, regulators, and prospective and current employees all expect leaders to be responsible and accountable for their organization's culture," Gartner's managing VP, Bryan Kurey, said in a statement.