Workplace deaths down, OSHA proposes new PPE rule

On-the-job deaths in 2007 dropped to a historic low, evidence that worker safety and health programs are working, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last year there were 5,488 worker deaths, the lowest number the Bureau of Labor statistics has seen since they began tracking the statistic in 1992.
"This is continued evidence that the initiatives and programs to protect workers' safety and health, designed by and implemented in this administration, are indeed working," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said.

The most dangerous jobs in the U.S. (fatal injuries per 100,000 workers) are:
  • Fishers and related fishing workers (111.8)
  • Logging workers (86.4)
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers (66.7)
  • Structural and steel workers (45.5)

In the private sector, the construction industry is the most dangerous, with 1,178 deaths in 2007, a five percent decrease from the previous year.

In related news, last week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced in the Federal Registrar that it is taking public comments on a proposed rule regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and training standards.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) clarifies that when OSHA requires an employer to provide PPE for an employee, the employer must do so for each employee subject to the requirement.

OSHA requires employers to use and train employees on PPE to reduce employee exposure to hazards. The new amendment clarifies that each unprotected or untrained employee may be considered a separate violation under OSHA penalties.

OSHA is accepting public comments on the proposed rule at the Federal eRulemaking Portal until September 18, 2008.

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