Without a lot of notice, a focused effort to cooperate on reducing “struck by” fatalities in Louisiana is showing really encouraging results.
By definition, struck by accidents “are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.” It is the #3 cause of construction industry deaths nationwide, according to OSHA, but it is not the leading cause. Falls kill about three times as many workers as struck by incidents.
That is not true in Louisiana where, for some reason, struck by deaths have been the number one cause of death at worksites. Last year, 24 workers died from struck by incidents in the state. OSHA officials discussed the problem and their initiative to address it at the Louisiana Governor’s Safety & Health Conference held in Baton Rouge this week. They said they worked closely with industry, especially in the construction trades, to address the problem. The results are impressive and encouraging. Where last year, there were 24 struck by deaths in Louisiana, so far for 2013 there have only been five. It is no longer the leading cause of death for workers in the state. Five is still too many, but the improvement is remarkable.
The important thing about this effort to reduce struck by incidents is that it appears to have been done with a high degree of cooperation and without a lot of headlines or adversarial finger pointing. Initiatives like this ought to be the model for how government and industry can work together to tackle a safety problem.