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TOSHA: State seeing spike in workplace fatalities

From Staff Reports

The Administrator of the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA), Steve Hawkins, urges employers and workers pay special attention to workplace safety and health after 22 Tennessee workers suffered fatal job-related injuries since January.

“In the month of July alone, 10 Tennessee workers lost their lives in workplace accidents, devastating families, friends, co-workers and businesses. Most all of these could have been prevented,” said Hawkins.

With 22 work-related deaths during the first seven months of 2016, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s TOSHA program encourages Tennessee employers to take immediate steps to ensure a safe workplace.

“If this trend in workplace deaths continues, Tennessee will see an increase of 36 percent in fatal accidents investigated by TOSHA in comparison to 2014,” Hawkins said. “Employers need to carefully review their injury and illness prevention programs and their work place safety and health procedures with their employees.”

In 2015, more than half all workplace fatalities were the result of being struck by an object or falls. The majority of workplace fatalities occurred in the manufacturing segment with only eight percent occurring in the construction industry. In 2016, almost half of the 22 workplace fatalities occurred on construction sites.

Immediate steps that can be taken by employers and workers to avoid workplace injuries and illnesses include:

  • Conducting a safety and health “stand down” meeting and encourage discussion on recognizing and correcting hazards in the workplace.
  • Pledging to work together with front line employees as a team to make the workplace a safer, healthier and happier place to work.
  • Establishing and implementing a safety and health program for the work site with full employee involvement.
  • Encouraging accident prevention and the reporting of hazards and injuries in the workplace. Many times minor injuries go unreported and more severe injuries result later on as a result of an uncorrected hazard in the workplace.
  • Increasing attention toward the safety of vulnerable workers such as temporary workers or those who are not fluent in English.
  • TOSHA offers free On-Site Consultation Services to help small businesses better understand and voluntarily comply with TOSHA standards. Priority is given to high hazard workplaces with 250 or fewer employees. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the TOSHA office closest to you or by contacting the Consultative Services at (800) 325-9901.

More information on INJURY AND ILLNESS PREVENT PROGRAMS can be found at:

More information on TRAINING for employees and employers can be found at:

More information on HAZARD IDENTIFICATION can be found at:

More information on assistance available to SMALL BUSINESSES can be found at:

More information on REPORTING workplace fatalities (within 8 hours) and severe work-related injuries – defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye (within 24 hours) – can be found at: (fatalities and severe injuries can also be reported through OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742), or a local TOSHA office.