State workplace deaths up

86 died on the job: Thurston County records none for 2010; King County has most, says L&I

February 19, 2011 

Thurston County had no workplace deaths in 2010, down from two in 2009, although last year's statewide total rose to 86, according to data released this week by the state Department of Labor and Industries.

The statewide total rose sharply over the 65 workplace deaths in 2009, the data show. Still, 2009 was an unusually low year for workplace deaths, which historically fall in the range of 80 to 90 a year, L&I spokesman Hector Castro said Friday.

Of those 86 deaths last year, one was in Mason County and five were in Lewis County. Pierce County also had five, an improvement over the 16 workplace- related deaths there in 2009.

Some of those Pierce County workplace deaths in 2009 were tied to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

In Lewis County last year, four people were killed in airplane crashes and one person died in a logging-related accident when an equipment saw broke and the chain link struck the victim in the neck.

The Mason County death occurred when a brush picker, gathering salal, was accidentally shot by a hunter, according to L&I data.

Farmworkers, loggers and those in the fishing industry accounted for 20 workplace deaths last year. Seven people were killed in the Tesoro refinery accident in Anacortes last year, and seven farm workers died in tractor roll-over accidents.

Castro said that when L&I observes a trend in workplace deaths, the agency responds with outreach programs and consultations or will issue a special alert to a particular industry. In the case of the farm worker deaths, the agency issued a hazard alert to the agriculture industry. Seven people, too, died in the construction industry last year, which remained low because of an emphasis on safety and the slower pace of the construction business, Castro said.

King County had the most workplace deaths in 2010, followed by Skagit County.

The workplace deaths are not forgotten. L&I has a worker memorial that is set for 2 p.m. April 28 at L&I’s headquarters in Tumwater. Gov. Chris Gregoire has been invited to attend the ceremony, Castro said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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