EHS OutLoud Blog
the only acceptable number is zero

The Only Acceptable Number

Numbers, numbers and more numbers. That is what you will find when you browse through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Web site – from jobless rates and compensation data to import and export price indices. You can even find the average hourly earnings numbers.

On April 25, the BLS published a revised report: a census, which of course contains numbers. There is one number, however, that stands tall above them all. The one that is buried under the “Subject Areas” tab and “Workplace Injuries” sub-tab, and then under the “Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities” page, and then under the “Current Injury, Illness, and Fatality Injury Data” header and, finally, highlighted in a red “Revised” ribbon, the link to another page: “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) – Current and Revised Data.”

But we are still not at the number. To get there, you need to scroll down to the line that starts with 2011 and select the first item: “Cases added on the revised 2011 file.” Now we are at the number.

And what does that number reveal? As incredible as it may seem, 4,693 people never made it back to their families when they left for work in 2011. 4,693 deaths!!! That is slightly more than one work-related fatality every 2 hours on every day of the year. From the time you leave work today to the time you report back to work tomorrow, approximately seven workers nationwide will be denied the opportunity to do the same.

Perhaps a number appears to be merely a number on pages of numbers. Perhaps these numbers happen to other people and not our own. Perhaps we become numb to the meaning behind the digits and perhaps there is no better way to express the statistics, but one thing is certain. There is no justifiable reason for any number to be in this category. If there is, the only acceptable number is zero.

TAGS: Safety
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