On Labor Day, remember the safety of people who work

Published 11:28 am Sunday, September 3, 2017

ST. PAUL —  Every day, three million Minnesotans go to work.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is urging citizens take a moment to think about the effort needed to ensure they return home safe and sound each day.

“In the past decade, Minnesota has seen the number of work-related injuries and illnesses fall from 124,800 in 2005 to 91,500 in 2015; a 27 percent decrease,” says Ken Peterson, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry commissioner. “To continue this positive trend, we need to develop even safer work sites so more workers go home healthy each night.”

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But even with improvements, major strides are still needed to keep Minnesotans safe on the job, said Paul Aasen, Minnesota Safety Council president.

“No one goes to work thinking they will get hurt or sick. No one purposely puts themselves in harm’s way. And safety professionals across our state work hard every day to keep their co-workers safe. Nonetheless, the numbers remind us we have more to do,” he said.

“On a typical day, 205 Minnesotans suffer a workplace illness or injury. Of these, 97 are serious. Every five days, a worker in Minnesota dies on the job. Every fatality, injury or illness is one too many and all are preventable,” Aasen added.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Safety Council have just released the 2017 edition of their workplace safety information. The annual statistical report highlights several key worker safety and health indicators.

Highlights include:

• At 2.7 per 100,000 workers, Minnesota’s 2015 fatal occupational injury rate is below the 3.4 national rate for that year.

• Agriculture remains one of the state’s most dangerous sectors. Between 2011-2015, 31 percent of fatal work injuries were among those employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting businesses, particularly among workers in crop production jobs.

• More than one in three fatal workplace injuries involved driving or operating a vehicle.

• While the number of claims has dropped since 2006, Minnesota’s total workers’ compensation costs rose in 2015 to $1.75 billion, up about 5 percent from 2014.

“Minnesota Workplace Safety, 2017” is available at www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org/WorkplaceSafetyDashboard.pdf