“Since the IA FACE program began in the mid-1990s, we have seen numbers this low only twice,” said Murray Madsen, IA FACE chief trauma investigator. “Although the preliminary count for 2009 may increase a little as final year-end data comes in, the news so far is good — the number of Iowa work deaths is down.”
Madsen believes the data may somewhat reflect the current economic slowdown.
“In recent years, we saw truck drivers and other workers dying in an increasing number of roadway crashes,” he said. “A slower economy has reduced traffic and crashes in general and probably means reduced business-related travel for many workers.”
Although farm-related deaths also decreased from the previous year, the agriculture industry continues to suffer more traumatic work deaths than other industries in the state — accounting for 35 percent of work deaths documented in current 2009 IA FACE data.
“Each type of fatal situation we track is at or below what we have seen in the previous five years. It’s a pleasant surprise that there are fewer deaths due to tractor overturns, falling objects and equipment runovers,” Madsen said. “We track these and other less frequent fatal events, like grain bin engulfments, toxic and confined space exposures and machinery entanglements that also vary from year to year. However, their occurrence at any rate clearly demonstrates the need to continue efforts that reduce the risks.”
The IA FACE program collects information about worker fatalities to alert other workers and employers to common hazards and help prevent similar fatalities.
“The preliminary 2009 data is encouraging, and we hope next year will be even better as we continue to focus on safety and prevention recommendations,” Madsen said.
Descriptions of all traumatic work deaths from 1995 through 2008 are available at http://cph.uiowa.edu/face/.
The Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program is conducted by the UI Injury Prevention Research Center in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and State Medical Examiner’s Office.
Funded by IDPH with funds from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the IA FACE program is part of a national network of nine state programs that collect information on worker fatalities. In Iowa, the program has a special focus on agricultural fatalities and works closely with teaching, research and outreach programs in agricultural safety and health in the UI College of Public Health.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242
MEDIA CONTACTS: Murray Madsen, Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation, 319-335-4481, firstname.lastname@example.org; Hannah Fletcher, UI College of Public Health, 319-384-4277, email@example.com