On December 23, 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published a comparison report related to the number of occupational fatalities in 2018 to previous years. At 5,250, the United States experienced a 2% increase in workplace fatalities from 2017. The increase is due to many contributing factors, but one that stands out is a clear and distinct increase in shear workforce sizes across almost every industry in the United States. In 2008, the BLS reported 5,214 occupational fatalities; an almost exact statistic from the latest 2018 report. The fatalities reported in the years between 2008 and 2018 reflect a downsize in the US economy and a rebound throughout the years up to today:
Does the Economy Impact Workplace Incidence Rates?
In 2017, an Appruv study was conducted to compare the number of fatalities in the construction industry to the overall employment rate for the United States. The study looked at employment and fatality data between 2011 and 2015. At the time of the study, construction fatalities were on the rise (Smith, 2017).
The variables in the correlation study were the total number of fatal occupational injuries in the construction industry from 2011 to 2015, and the total number of employed laborers, 16 years old and over (number in thousands) from the same time. The outcome was as expected; there was a very positive linear relationship between the steady increase in US laborers and reported fatalities each year.
By evaluating incident and employment data, the study showed that there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to a rise in incidence and fatality rates. It is not always as clear as a lack of safety programs, federal and state enforcement funding, or other internal factors. A booming economy and an increased workforce open up more opportunities for workplace incidents.
Lowering the Rates and Increasing Production
Most organizations will or have rejected acceptance that as the economy invites more production opportunities, their incidence rates will increase and meeting the demands of their customers means meeting more stringent requirements. Organizations are being forced to become more creative in what tools they use to help minimize incidents while increasing their workforce.
The BLS reports that the Occupational Health and Safety Professional career outlook will experience a 6-7% increase in the next 10 years. While this might not seem like enough to combat the trending incident rates, technology is playing a bigger role in the health and safety field today more than ever. More companies are using software made for health and safety data tracking and analysis making it easier to manage a growing organization in an also growing economy and focus their safety initiatives.
In addition to software, organizations are using more consulting services and third-party providers to better manage their EHS efforts. Outside vendors can now be better managed using a third-party prequalification service rather than hiring additional health and safety professionals and procurement officials. Appruv's prequalification service provides more than just a platform to qualify outside contractors, vendors, and suppliers, it also gives organizations more insight into the incidence rates that outside organizations are bringing with them. By gaining this insight, organizations have a better chance of changing the trend of increased incidence rates during increased production.
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