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Oregon workplace deaths unchanged in 2018, but still 'troubling'

Workplace fatalities

Oregon workplace fatalities in 2018 stayed the same as the previous year but were still higher than deaths recorded in the past five years, according to preliminary figures released by the state’s Department of Consumer and Business Services, a trend that the state’s safety administrator called “troubling.”

The state recorded 35 deaths covered by the state’s workers compensation system in 2018, the same as in 2017, said the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration in a statement on Tuesday. The figures, which are compiled from records of death claim benefits paid by Oregon workers comp insurers during the calendar year, exclude self-employed individuals and some city and federal workers, and will be finalized in early 2020, according to Oregon OSHA.

According to the data, agriculture, forestry and fishing saw the largest concentrations of deaths, with nine recorded fatalities in 2018. Seven deaths were reported in logging, seven in transportation and warehousing, and five in the wholesale trade industry.

In 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the number of fatalities on the job were 31, 27, 29 and 35 respectively. While workplace deaths are down significantly compared with previous decades, the latest figures imply that the overall trend downward appears to be flattening out, said Oregon OSHA.

In 2002, the workplace fatality rate in the state was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers; in 2016, it was 1.6, or dropped by about half, according to Oregon OSHA.

However, the Oregon OSHA statement noted that the Workplace Fatalities in Oregon program, which tracks on-the-job deaths regardless of workers comp status, showed that 61 people died on the job in 2016, a rise of nearly 50% compared with the program’s 2015 figure of 41 deaths.

Using WFO guidelines, total workplace deaths were estimated for 2012 through 2014. Averaged over five years, there were approximately 51 on-the-job deaths annually. 

“The recent numbers are troubling,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA in the release. “They demand our full attention as we look to the future and renew our commitment to pinpointing and eliminating workplace hazards.”








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