Sometimes measures to protect safety seem to go too far, as many pointed out after the recent prohibition on performers throwing candy to their audience during routines. But if we look at workplace safety using the statisticians’ tool known as the micromort (defined as a one-in-a-million chance of sudden death), we can appreciate what many (seemingly insignificant) safety measures have actually achieved.
Safety measures often to get little credit for the reduction in industrial accidents over the decades. England, for instance – the very birthplace of the industrial revolution – formed it’s current national worker safety program in 1974. At that time there were 651 employees killed at work, an average risk of 29 micromorts per year for a worker. Yet by 2010 that figure had fallen to 120, which is 5 micromorts per year (an impressive 82% decrease in risk). Self-employed workers carry more risk, and 51 were killed in 2010, which raises the overall UK average to 6 micromorts per year.
Britain comes out ahead in comparison with other European countries. Statisticians with EU office known as Eurostat report that British workers were on average exposed to 10 micromorts per year in 2007, compared with 17 in France, 19 in Germany, 26 in Spain, 35 in Poland and 84 in Romania.
On this side of the Atlantic, the US Bureau for Labor Statistics provides some troubling statistics on the fate of 130 million workers in 2010. A total of 4,547 workers were killed, a rate of 35 micromorts per worker per year. The most common cause was car accidents, which are not included in the European figures: without these the rate falls to around 28 micromorts per year, about on par with Spain.
But more surprising is that the second most common cause of death – bigger than falls or being struck by equipment on a job site – is “assault and violent acts.” This makes up 18% of all workplace fatalities, including 506 homicides (and this has actually fallen from 860 homicides in 1997). That means that each year US workers have on average around 4 micromorts risk of being murdered at work – not much less than the total risk to UK workers from all other causes combined.
Workers also commonly suffer from non-fatal – yet still serious – injuries including back injuries, work-related hearing loss, repetitive strain injuries, construction site injuries and occupational illness. The L&I Attorneys at Emery Reddy represent Washington workers with any form of work injury. If you are experiencing difficulty in recovering your workers compensation benefits fromthe Department of Labor and Industries, a workers compensation attorney at Emery Reddy can represent your interests. Every day our experienced Seattle L&I Attorneys help clients appeal denied L&I claims, provide guidance to workers who are required to complete an independent medical exam, and help others who experience difficulties with their L&I claim.