Showing posts with label georgia insurance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label georgia insurance. Show all posts

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Work-related deaths and injuries on the rise in Georgia: A silent epidemic

Despite a 26 percent increase in one year, there has been practically no focus on the rising number of workers in Georgia who are dying and being injured at work.

In 2014, 148 workers died during job-related activities in the state, an increase of 31 over the year, according to preliminary reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationally, the number of deaths rose by 94, an increase of 2 percent.


Violence on the job was a key factor in the rise in Georgia, with the number of work-related deaths due to intentional injury more than doubling over the year from 15 to 32. The number of work-related suicides rose from 6 to 14.

The sharp rise in violence contrasts with a very low increase in the number of roadway incidents that resulted in deaths, which have been the main cause of work-related fatalities in past years. In 2014, road deaths accounted for 36 fatalities, up by only 3 over 2013.

Other leading causes of work-related deaths in 2014 included falls (26 deaths), being struck by object or equipment (15 deaths), and nonroadway incidents involving motorized equipment (11 deaths).

Of the 148 total fatalities, 134 workers were employed in private industry while 14 deaths occurred to workers employed by governments in the state. This compares to the 117 deaths recorded in 2013, of which 108 were in private industry and 9 were in government.

For 2014, the increase in fatalities occurred among men, as the number of men dying on the job increased from 103 in 2013 to 136 in 2014. Deaths among female workers actually declined over the year from 14 to 12.

Nonfatal injuries and illnesses

Georgia workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illnesses at a rate of 2.9 per 100 equivalent full-time workers in 2014. While this remains below the national average of 3.2, it is an increase over 2013 when the state recorded a rate of 2.8.

In contrast, the U.S. recorded a decrease in the rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses, dropping from 3.3 per 100 equivalent full-time workers in 2013 to 3.2 in 2014.

Why the increase and why is it being ignored?

While Georgia focuses on job growth, the growing number of injuries and deaths goes unreported in the media and the state chooses not to highlight this growing epidemic.

In part this may be due to the state’s decision several years ago to move the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from the Georgia Department of Labor to the state’s Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner. This office may not recognize the importance of the data or may choose to play down numbers, which they may feel reflect badly on the state's reputation.

While individual deaths are sometimes, but not always, reported in the media, it is hard for the casual reader or viewer to see the aggregated result or understand the trend. Nonfatal injuries and illnesses are much less likely to receive media attention, so they often remain "under the radar."

A harder question to answer is why are more people in Georgia getting injured and dying on the job?

Some of the increase in fatal and nonfatal injuries can be attributed to more workers returning to work after the recession. It is expected that with more people on the job, there are more possibilities for work-related injuries. Yet, Georgia’s job growth is only equal to the national average, while the number of fatal and nonfatal injuries and illnesses is growing faster than the U.S.

Even as the numbers grow, Georgia’s nonfatal injuries and illness rate is staying below the national average. Some of this lower rate reflects the state’s mix of industries, as the state moves towards an increasingly white-collar economy. Office jobs tend to have fewer serious injuries then those in traditional manufacturing, construction, and transportation industries.

More work needs to be done to determine why Georgia’s work-related deaths and injuries are increasing, but if the numbers are simply ignored, than there is no incentive to work to lower them.

For workers and their families, each person who goes to work each day expects to come home alive and uninjured. For more Georgia families, that appears to be a false expectation.