Health & Safety
Although Florida no longer placed in the top three states for workplace deaths in 2014, that was less because of a decrease in occupational fatalities in the state than because of a significant increase in another state. It is still troubling that many of the state’s industries have seen an increase in workplace fatalities that are both foreseeable and preventable and that the state should see a doubling in the number of fatalities related to harmful substances or environments.
Moreover, based on the fact that ninety-one percent of the state’s fatalities occur within private industry, private industry should be actively engaged in addressing workplace safety and health issues by establishing comprehensive injury and illness prevention programs to promote the identification and control of workplace hazards.
Additionally, employers should withdraw all programs that discourage the reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses or other programs that shift employer responsibility for health and safety onto workers. Employers should also support workers who are concerned about workplace safety.
Communities and elected officials should prioritize workplace safety so that an employee is not put in the position of having to choose between safety and a paycheck. Community members and elected officials should become educated on issues related to workplace safety and support the efforts of OSHA to assist both employers and employees in establishing safe and healthy workplaces. There are resources available to both employers and employees to ensure that workplace safety trainings and worksite evaluations are put in place and the use of these resources should be highly encouraged.
The goal within the state of Florida should be to continue to slip down the list of states with the highest numbers of occupational fatalities and instead to set a high bar of safety that other states can follow.
Key findings include:
- There were 4,821 workplace fatalities across all industries in 2014, up from 4,585 fatalities in 2013.
- Construction; transportation & warehousing; agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting remain nationwide the three industries with the highest numbers of workplace fatalities; each of the three has risen from 4-16% since 2013.
- Ninety-one percent of workplace fatalities in 2014 happened in private industry, up from eighty-nine percent in 2013.
- Seven of the ten industries nationwide with the highest levels of workplace fatalities have seen increases since 2013.
- The top three events or exposures related to fatalities nationwide are transportation incidents; falls, slips, & trips; and violence.
- Workplace fatalities in Florida have dropped slightly from 239 deaths in 2013 to 228 deaths, causing Florida to slip to number four in the list of states with the highest number of workplace deaths for the first time in many years.
- Construction; administrative & waste services; and transportation & warehousing remain the three industries with the highest number of workplace fatalities in Florida.
- Construction fatalities rose 16% in Florida and 10% nationwide.
- The top three events or exposures related to fatalities in Florida are transportation incidents; falls, slips & trips; and violence, mirroring the national statistics.
- In a troubling development in Florida, the number of deaths from exposure to harmful substances or environments doubled in 2014 after several years of decline.
Read the complete report on workplace fatalities below.
South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice is a founding member of the South Florida Council on Occupational Safety and Health (South Florida COSH) and looks forward to working with you to create a culture of safety in South Florida.