Construction Fatalities Way Down

The number of construction-related fatalities has declined precipitously during the first six months of 2009 according to data from the Department of Labor and Industries.

Since Jan. 1 there have been only two construction-related fatalities compared to recent yearly averages of 16 fatalities with 18 in 2008.

“While two is still too many we are thrilled by this good news” said AGC Executive Vice President David D’Hondt. “AGC and its member contractors have been working closely with Labor and Industries and this new data shows that the industry is continuing to make big strides with regard to workplace safety.”

While the economic slowdown is likely part of the reason for the reduced number of fatalities it is likely not the whole story – for example total construction employment in Washington State declined 14 percent in April 2009 from April 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics but the construction fatality numbers are on pace for a 78 percent reduction in 2009.

D’Hondt cited two examples of AGC/L&I collaboration that may be having a positive effect on workplace safety:

The AGC Safety Team® is a voluntary statewide program recognized by the Department of Labor & Industries. A record number of firms – 238 – have qualified for membership in the Safety Team. These firms have passed jobsite safety audits and ensure that safety plans are effectively implemented.

In addition the Department of Labor and Industries in partnership with AGC and three other business and labor organizations recently began an advertising campaign to raise awareness about the importance of workplace safety in Washington State.

Television radio and internet ads in Western Washington spread the message that the most important reason for making your workplace safe is not at work at all. Instead workplace safety is important as a means of sustaining relationships with family and friends outside the workplace.

The centerpiece ad called Homecomings shows people coming home from work to their loved ones juxtaposed against one boy who is worried that his dad isnt home from work yet. The ad concludes with a reminder that on average two people die every week in Washington from on-the-job injuries and illnesses. The ads call attention to WorkSafe.Lni.wa.gov and resources for making workplaces safer.

Co-sponsoring the ad campaign are in addition to AGC the Association of Washington Business the Washington State Labor Council and the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.