Fatal work-related injuries in the U.S. chemical industry 1984–89

  • Anthony Suruda
  • David Wallace
Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF00377864

Cite this article as:
Suruda, A. & Wallace, D. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (1996) 68: 425. doi:10.1007/BF00377864

Abstract

Several mortality studies of the chemical industry have examined fatal injuries, but most of these studies have been of employees of large chemical firms and have not separated work-related from non-work-related injuries. We examined all U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation files in 1984-89 in 47 U.S. states of fatal injuries in the chemical industry, Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 2800–2899. OSHA investigates all reported deaths over which it has jurisdiction; this includes most causes of work-related death except for homicide and motor vehicle crashes. For the 6 year period, there were 234 fatalities in the chemical industry, for a work-related fatality rate of 0.55 per 10,000 workers/year. The largest category of deaths was from explosions, with 99 (42%), followed by fire & burns, with 32 (14%), poisoning, with 31 (13%), and falls, with 18 (8%). Of the 99 deaths from explosions, 45 (45%) involved manufacture or handling of fireworks or other explosives. The fatality rate at firms with fewer than 50 employees was more than twice that of larger firms (P < 0.05) and employees at small firms were less likely to have been covered by a union contract (P < 0.05). OSHA issued citations for safety violations in 73% of the deaths. While regulatory authorities and the media often focus attention on large, multinational chemical corporations, the highest worker fatality rates are found at the smallest chemical firms.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Suruda
    • 1
  • David Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, RMCOEH building 512University of Utah School of MedicineSalt Lake CityUSA

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