The stark reality of insufficient training, leading to a rise in work-related injuries and increased risks.
Inadequate job training is a leading cause of workplace injuries and deaths across the U.S. and Georgia. Additionally, a lack of training has been linked to a decrease in employee morale and job satisfaction, ultimately leading to high turnover rates that make it difficult for employers to attract and retain top talent.
Because of the numerous serious consequences of inadequate training on the physical, mental and financial well-being of employees and employers alike, it’s crucial that businesses constantly re-evaluate their employee training programs to ensure all appropriate safety measures are in place to prevent on-the-job injuries.
Statistics on preventable work injuries and fatalities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles and reports annual statistics related to work injuries and deaths. Those statistics are broken down by industry groups.
Preventable nonfatal work injuries
For 2021, BLS reported that there were 1,062,700 nonfatal injuries and illnesses causing a worker to miss at least 1 day of work. That was 9.7% lower than the previous year. The 2021 rate of absence was 1.2 cases per 100 full-time workers.
For the top 5 industry sectors, BLS reported for 2021 that:
- Retail trade had 404,700 injury cases (a reduction from 2020)
- Transportation and warehousing had 253,100 injury cases (an increase from 2020)
- Healthcare and social assistance had 623,000 injury cases (a reduction from 2020)
- Manufacturing had 380,000 injury cases (an increase from 2020)
- Professional, scientific and technical services had 75,000 injury cases (an increase from 2020)
Preventable fatal work injuries
Fatal work injuries are reported annually by the BLS’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. In 2021, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the U.S. That was an 8.9% increase from 2020. The rate of fatal injuries in 2021 was 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers.
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that, of the 5,190 work-related deaths reported by the BLS, 4,472 were preventable. The NSC states that its data is derived from the BLS reports. The BLS does not classify its death statistics as preventable or not preventable, so it’s not clear how the NSC determines which deaths reported by the BLS were preventable.
The industry sectors with the most work-related deaths were:
- Transportation and warehousing
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
What benefits can dependents claim following a loved one’s work-related death? Employee death benefits differ across states. Read our guide to find out more.
Georgia work injury statistics
According to data from the BLS, in 2021, Georgia experienced 187 work injuries that resulted in death. Of these accidents, 76 were transportation related. This accounted for a total of 41% of all workplace fatalities statewide that year.
Other top causes of workplace fatalities in Georgia in 2021 included:
- Violence-related injuries caused by other individuals or animals, which resulted in 37 deaths, making it the #2 cause of death on the job
- Exposure to toxic substances/environments, which resulted in 31 deaths.
Sadly, deaths from these 2 causes increased significantly from 2020 and were preventable had proper workplace training and safety measures been in place.
The cost of work-related injuries
Work injuries are costly not only to injured employees—but also to companies and communities as a whole. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, in 2020, work injuries resulted in a nationwide financial cost of $163.9 billion, including:
- Wage/productivity losses of $44.8 billion
- Administrative costs of $61 billion
- Medical costs of $34.9 billion
- Uninsured costs to employers of $12.8
Fire losses totaling $6.2 billion and damaged or destroyed motor vehicles amounting to $4.3 billion are also included in the $163.9 billion total.
Even if an employee is awarded workers’ compensation benefits, these benefits only typically cover two-thirds of their average weekly wages, which means they may have difficulty making ends meet while they recover. In some instances, the injured employee may lose their home and other property as a result of not being able to pay their bills following an on-the-job injury.
There’s often a psychological and emotional cost as well. An individual who is unable to work may experience depression, anxiety, stress and other issues because of issues like pain and concerns about an uncertain future.
Employers also suffer the consequences of having injuries occur in the workplace. Fewer employees can mean:
- Less productivity
- An inability to meet deadlines
- A reduction in available staff to cover work hours.
All of these issues equal a decrease in revenue. When customers are unhappy with the services they receive from a company, they take their business (and their money) elsewhere.
Additionally, when businesses are affected negatively, the community as a whole is affected as well. Successful companies mean profits for the city in which they’re located. Consumers bring their money to the area, enriching the local economy.
If a company suffers due to the loss of employees and/or poor performance by the remaining employees, then the community experiences financial loss as well. Word of mouth will keep others from patronizing the company, meaning even greater loss over time.
How inadequate training leads to work injuries
When employees are not trained properly before beginning their work assignments, they become a safety hazard to themselves and their coworkers. Some of the most common examples of inadequate workplace training that result in on-the-job injuries or death include:
- Failure to inform an employee about necessary safety protocols and procedures
- Failure to properly supervise new employees until they’re adequately trained
- Failure to ensure employees are qualified to perform the duties assigned to them
- Failure to provide employees with detailed information regarding the risks of certain duties and machinery
- Failure to perform regular work skills and safety awareness reviews of employees with their supervisors
OSHA training requirements
Since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970, its mission has been to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers. It works to accomplish this by setting and enforcing standards for various industries and operations.
These requirements include the following:
- Emergency action plans. Employers with more than 10 employees are required to have a written plan of action in case of an emergency. This plan should be available for employees to review.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE). For jobs requiring it, personal protective equipment such as respirators, hard hats, gloves, face/eye protection, etc., must be provided and maintained in good working order by an employer. The employer must also see to it that all employees are trained in the correct use, maintenance, care and disposal of PPE.
- Hazard communication. Employers must provide comprehensive information and training regarding hazardous chemicals workers may be exposed to on the job. This must include the use of material safety data sheets and clear labels with chemical-specific information.
- First aid and medical services. An employer is responsible for making sure workers have immediate access to medical consultation/advice on the job. First aid supplies should also be kept on hand in the workplace.
- Confined spaces procedures. Training is required for employees who work in confined spaces to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and understanding they need in order to safely carry out their job requirements prior to being given any duties.
- Fire protection and instructions. An employer must make sure employees know how to operate fire safety equipment located in the workplace through hands-on training. This includes the use of respiratory protection equipment.
- Electrical safety procedures. Employees must be familiar with and trained to differentiate exposed live electrical equipment and its components from other electrical equipment.
- Bloodborne pathogens procedures. Employers must provide training for workers (at no cost to the workers and to be held during regular work hours) regarding bloodborne pathogens as outlined under Toxic and Hazardous Substances, including providing employees with copies of regulatory text, instructions on the type of equipment used, etc.
- Mechanical power press training. All operator and maintenance personnel must receive training prior to working on or with mechanical power press equipment.
- Lockout/tagout procedures. Lockout/tagout (LOTO) is the procedural list of directions for ensuring that any equipment used when working with potentially hazardous energy is properly and effectively shut down, rendered inoperable and de-energized, allowing repairs and maintenance to be performed on the equipment safely.
- Exit routes. Employers need to ensure that all exits and exit routes are clearly marked and posted and that employees are aware of the exit routes and exits closest to their work locations.
- Working/walking surfaces. Walkways and work area floors must be kept free of obstacles or conditions (spills, loose flooring, rugs, etc.) that could facilitate slips, trips or falls. This topic also includes instructions on proper/required footwear.
- Heat exposure/illness. Employees should be aware of the hazards of heat exposure/stress on the job, particularly in confined spaces, and be trained in preventing and treating heat exposure with PPE, medical care, etc.
Frequently cited OSHA violations 2022
Each year, OSHA reports the 10 most cited violations of its safety standards. The following are the top 10 safety violations for the fiscal year 2022:
- Fall protection, general requirements – 5,260 violations
- Hazard communication standard, general requirements – 2,424 violations
- Respiratory protection, general industry – 2,185 violations
- Ladders, construction – 2,143 violations
- Scaffolding, general requirements, construction – 2,058 violations
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general requirements – 1,977 violations
- Powered industrial trucks, general requirements – 1,749 violations
- Fall protection, training requirements – 1,556 violations
- Eye and face protection – 1,401 violations
- Machinery and machine guard, general requirements – 1,370 violations
OSHA training standards
OSHA recognizes the importance of training to ensure workers’ safety. For many of its general standards, OSHA links to a training standard. For example, among the top 10 violations for 2022 are fall protection general and fall protection training.
Under the general standard for fall protection (1926.502), employer responsibilities include installing guard rails, safety nets and other protections against falls.
The fall-protection training standard (1926.503) requires that:
The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.
OSHA training standards are linked to many other industries, operations, or specific hazards.
Common accidents and injuries caused by lack of training
As OSHA recognizes, nearly all workplace accidents can be reduced with worker training. Training helps employees to recognize hazards and avoid them with safe practices and proper use of equipment and machinery.
Some common workplace accidents caused by improper training include:
- Transportation accidents
- Struck by objects
- Caught in or between equipment or machinery
- Falls from heights
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Electric shock/electrocution accidents
- Overexertion accidents
These incidents can lead to serious and often life-threatening injuries, including:
- Heat exhaustion
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Muscle sprains
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Knee and wrist injuries
- Amputation/loss of limb
Benefits of training
In addition to the prevention of workplace injuries, worker training benefits businesses in the following ways:
- Less worker turnover. High turnover rates adversely impact the employer’s business in several ways. Retention of workers facilitates a more experienced and better-trained workforce with greater productivity.
- More profitability. Replacing workers requires new costs for orientation and training. It’s reported that the cost of hiring a new employee can be as much as 30% of the employee’s salary. If a new employee is to be paid $40,000 per year, it typically costs the employer an additional $12,000 to hire them and merge them into the system.
- Better morale. Training gives workers more confidence and pride in their work performance. Increased productivity impacts the employer’s revenue and profitability.
- Fewer penalties. OSHA and state labor departments impose hefty fines for violations of their standards, including training standards. Compliance with those standards avoids civil and criminal penalties.
Famous work-related fatal accidents in U.S. history
Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire
On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, resulting in the deaths of 146 garment workers who were trapped inside the building due to locked exit doors and inadequate fire safety measures. The tragedy led to a wave of reforms in the U.S., including the creation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in 11 fatalities and a massive oil spill that had far-reaching environmental and economic impacts. Investigations into the disaster revealed that inadequate training and safety practices were among the key factors that contributed to the tragedy, promoting reform in the Department of the Interior Minerals Management Services.
Mount Everest tragedy
In 2019, 11 climbers lost their lives on Mount Everest due to a combination of overcrowding, inexperienced commercial operators, and inadequate training. During an interview with CNN, veteran climber David Morton explained, “The major problem is inexperience, not only of the climbers that are on the mountain but also the operators supporting those climbers.”
The tragedy shed light on the growing commercialization of the mountain and the need for better regulation and training for climbers, as well as the importance of respecting the limits of the environment.
Recent work-related injuries in the news
New Hampshire contractor fined for fall hazards
OSHA recently cited a Derry, New Hampshire, contractor for a second time for failing to implement safety measures to prevent potentially deadly falls for his employees.
Federal workplace safety inspectors levied the citation against Ridge Runner Construction, LLC, after discovering the violations at work sites located in Salem and Merrimack, New Hampshire. Fall dangers from heights as great as 20 feet were discovered, including danger from ladders that did not extend the required 3 feet above the edge of the roof, which provides necessary stability.
The work sites were also missing proper lifeline anchorage, employee training on effective fall prevention education, and a person knowledgeable in on-the-job hazards who could inspect and correct such issues. Workers also lacked face and eye PPE when working with nail guns. The company must fully comply with all violations within 15 business days of receipt of the OSHA notification or contest the findings with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Ridge Runner Construction, LLC had previously been cited in 2017 and 2021 for hazardous falling conditions on job sites in Peabody and North Redding, Massachusetts.
Florida firefighter’s death sparks calls for safety reform
Following the death of a firefighter in Apopka, Florida, the majority of the city’s firefighters expressed their desire to see the city replace Fire Chief Sean Wylam due to ongoing safety concerns and a lack of confidence in Chief Wylam’s competence for the position. Firefighter Austin Duran died after a trailer filled with sand used for cleaning up dangerous spills fell on him on the job. Following an investigation, the state fire marshall determined that the fatal accident occurred due to a lack of training.
For quite some time prior to the fatality, firefighters had levied complaints against Chief Wylam to City Council and the firefighters’ union. At a recent meeting, union president Alex Klepper stated that an overwhelming 85% of the union firefighters had expressed that they have no confidence in Chief Wylam’s abilities to safely and competently head the Apopka fire department or provide “a safe and proactive environment.”
They also expressed concerns about Chief Wylam’s failure to accept responsibility and accountability for the problems within his department, including safety, training, staffing, planning and organizational structure issues.
Chief Wylam released a statement claiming that he was previously unaware of any issues within the department with regard to these opinions and that he was blindsided by the harsh criticism levied against him by City Council. An independent report compiled by Gannon Emergency Services found that safety programs and the health of firefighters had been improperly overseen to the point of neglect and that the agency needed restructuring.
TV reporter struck by a car while reporting on a car crash
In March 2023, a Canadian journalist was hurt on the job while gathering information to report on a wreck involving 2 vehicles that had occurred hours earlier.
Stephanie Villella, a reporter for CTV News Kitchener in Guelph, Ontario, was struck by a sedan as she was collecting video footage and still images for a report on an accident that had taken place earlier near the intersection of Maltby Road and Brock Road South.
Her injuries were reportedly life-threatening, leading many to call for improved safety standards for field reporters working at potentially dangerous locations.
Chicago social worker murdered during a home visit
A Chicago social worker lost her life on the job when she made a house call alone to check on a report of children living in unsanitary conditions. On January 4, 2022, Deirdre Silas, who worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, made the home visit. She did not request a police escort, as is encouraged by the department in cases that may be dangerous, because there had been no reported history of violence involving the family in question.
Upon arriving at the home, Silas discovered 6 adults and 5 children living in the small 2-bedroom home. This was a larger number of residents than she had been made aware of. Silas also found the house to be filled with trash and animal waste. As Silas was attempting to add the additional children in the home to the welfare check, a male relative also living in the home stabbed her to death.
Silas’s murder led to demands for safety reforms within the department from the Illinois Union of Public Employees, child welfare organizations and lawmakers across the state. However, a year later, many in the field say not much has changed.
Companies recently fined for OSHA violations
OSHA inspectors discover numerous violations of its standards every day. Some violators receive just a warning with directions to remedy their violations. Others are hit with fines, some of which can be substantial. Repeat offenders get hit with larger fines.
Below are some recent examples.
Pennsylvania internet provider Centre WISP fined $40,000 after worker’s death
Centre WISP is an internet provider in Pennsylvania. Recently, its worker was fatally electrocuted when the utility truck bucket in which he was working contacted live electrical wires.
OSHA investigated the accident and found multiple violations of its applicable standards. Among them, Centre WISP failed to properly train the employee on safety procedures for working around 7,200-volt power lines. He also was not wearing a harness, and his truck was not braced to keep it from rolling. Additionally, the bucket was not properly insulated. The employer now faces more than $40,000 in fines.
Amazon faces more than $46,000 in fines for ergonomic hazards
Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act, known as the “General Duty Clause,” requires an employer to provide “a place of employment which [is] free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Recently, OSHA issued citations to 3 Amazon warehouses in Colorado, Idaho and New York principally for violations of the General Duty Clause. Specifically, the Amazon workers were exposed to ergonomic hazards. Amazon has already been cited for warehouse violations in 3 other locations.
All 6 violations posed a high risk of musculoskeletal disorders, especially lower back injuries. Those risks were attributed to workers needing to:
- Frequently lift heavy packages
- Awkwardly twist and extend themselves while lifting packages
- Work long hours in order to complete their assigned duties
OSHA proposed $46,875 in penalties for the violations at the Colorado, Idaho and New York warehouse facilities.
As Amazon grows and strives to ship online purchases faster and faster, its workplace injuries are also rising at a startling rate.
Texas business fined $292,000 for chemical safety violations
OSHA is imposing a $292,000 fine against an El Paso employer for exposing their employees to dangerous acids and other dangerous chemicals.
The agency inspectors found that Arizona Traders Co. had 12 serious violations of OSHA’s standards. The employer did not provide eyewash stations or showers for employees working around hydrochloric and nitric acids and ferric chloride.
The agency also found blocked exits, electrical hazards and acetylene and oxygen cylinders that weren’t stored according to safety regulations. The size of the Arizona Traders fine likely reflects their history of repeat citations.
Dollar General fined $15 million for repeated violations
Starting in early 2022. OSHA began inspections in 19 Dollar General stores in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
Dollar General is a habitual violator of OSHA standards. Since 2017, OSHA has imposed more than $15 million in fines against Dollar General based on more than 180 inspections nationwide. The OSHA fines imposed on habitual violators exceed those imposed on occasional violators. Once established as a repeat offender, the fines imposed on subsequent offenses are typically a multiple of the ordinary fines.
They have been cited for a variety of unsafe conditions. They include the following:
- Merchandise blocking exit routes, creating potential fire and entrapment hazards
- Improper stacking of boxes and merchandise, creating potential struck-by hazards
- Various fire, electrical and entrapment hazards
According to a statement by OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Atlanta, Kurt Petermeyer, “Dollar General’s growing record of disregard for safety measures makes it abundantly clear that the company puts profit before people … These violations are preventable, and failing to prevent them shows a blatant disregard for the workers on whom they depend to keep their stores operating. OSHA continues to make every effort to hold Dollar General accountable for its failures.”
New report reveals police receive less training than cosmetologists and plumbers
Recent news coverage highlights police malfeasance resulting in the injury or death of unarmed victims. But injuries to officers have also markedly increased in the past year. The FBI reported that 59 police officers were killed in the line of duty from January 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021. That’s a 51% increase in the number of police officers killed in the previous year.
It is widely suggested that police need more training. Police officers receive an average of only 652 hours of training. That compares to the 3,500 hours needed to obtain a plumbing license or the 3,000 hours to qualify to provide cosmetic treatments.
Police training of U.S. police recruits pales in comparison to other developed countries. Finnish police officers receive 5,500 hours of training before being put on the beat. In Japan, recruits get between 15 and 21 months of training. In Germany, they get 2.5 years of training.
The quality and consistency of the comparatively little training are also under intense scrutiny. A recent report by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) concluded that training standards for the U.S.’s more than 18,000 police agencies were out of date, inconsistent and often too brief.
According to the PERF report, there is very little consistency in the curriculum for police training. PERF cites a 2018 survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), estimating that there are 700 different police academies that train police recruits.
About 33% of those academies are operated by local law enforcement agencies, while 47% are operated by 4- or 2-year colleges or technical schools.
The same study showed that certified professionals made up only 11% of full-time instructors at police academies.
As for curriculum, the BJS found that in 2018, an average of 11 to 16 hours were devoted to the subjects of ethics and integrity, cultural diversity, problem-solving, and community-building.
That’s a fraction of the hours devoted to technical areas such as firearms skills (73 hours), defensive tactics (61 hours) and patrol procedures (52 hours).
That is not to suggest that technical areas should be given less attention. Rather, it suggests that U.S. police recruits need more training hours.
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Employee rights include safety on the job. At Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, we believe that every Georgia worker is entitled to work in a safe environment, which includes appropriate training and access to protective equipment.
If you’ve been injured at work in Atlanta, contact the experienced attorneys at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys to help with your claim. Our work injury attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience providing exceptional legal representation to workers across Georgia after an on-the-job injury or illness. Let us handle negotiations with your employer and their insurance company so you can focus on your recovery.