Health & Safety

In 2014, Florida slipped to number four in the list of states with the highest number of workplace deaths for the first time in many years. Unfortunately, in 2015, Florida returned to number three. It is deeply troubling that many of the state’s industries have seen an increase in workplace fatalities that are both foreseeable and preventable, particularly when workplace fatalities in the state rose 19% from 228 to 272 deaths while fatalities nationwide rose only one percent.

Moreover, based on the fact that 91% of the nation’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 support workers who are concerned about workplace safety by encouraging the reporting of unsafe conditions and working with workers to create a safe and healthy workplace environment for all.

Communities and elected officials should also 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.

Locally, elected officials and community members should become cognizant of the many issues that affect workplace safety and health including the misclassification of workers as independent contractors when they are actually employees. This practice pervades many Florida industries including those that rank the highest for workplace deaths each year such as construction. The misclassification of workers has a ripple effect that extends to a lack of safety training and provision of workers compensation.

The goal within the state of Florida should be to slip down the list of states with the highest numbers of occupational fatalities and to instead set a high bar of safety that other states can emulate. 

The goal at the federal level should be to support the efforts of OSHA and other similar regulatory bodies in order to ensure that both employers and employees are working together to adhere to workplace safety standards and best practices.

Key findings include:

  • There were 4,836 workplace fatalities across all industries in 2015, up from 4,821 fatalities in 2014.
  • Construction; transportation & warehousing; and agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting remain nationwide the three industries with the highest numbers of workplace fatalities.
  • Ninety-one percent of workplace fatalities in 2015 happened in private industry.
  • Six of the ten industries nationwide with the highest levels of workplace fatalities have seen increases since 2014.
  • The top four events or exposures related to fatalities nationwide are transportation incidents; falls, slips, & trips; contact with objects & equipment; and violence.
  • Workplace fatalities in Florida have increased from 228 deaths in 2014 to 272 deaths in 2015, an increase of 19%, ensuring once again that Florida remains in the top three states with the highest number of workplace deaths.
  • Construction; transportation & warehousing; and administrative & waste services remain the three industries with the highest number of workplace fatalities in Florida.
  • In 2014, construction-related fatalities increased by 10% nationally and by 16% in Florida; in 2015, construction-related deaths only increased between 5-5.5% locally and nationally although several construction-related occupations reported their highest level of fatalities in several years.
  • The top three events or exposures related to fatalities in Florida are transportation incidents; falls, slips, & trips; and violence.
  • In a troubling development, transportation and warehousing fatalities in Florida rose by 27%, which is noteworthy as transportation incidents account for the highest number of deaths both nationally and in the state.

Read the complete report on workplace fatalities below.

Workers' Memorial Day 2017 - Dying for Work In Florida Workers' Memorial Day 2017 - Dying for Work In Florida (1683 KB)

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.