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There were there were 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016, according to the Census for Fatal Occupational Injuries, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is up 7 percent from 2015. From 2015 to 2016, the rate increased from 3.4 to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

Transportation incidents made up the greatest number of deaths, accounting for 25 percent of the fatalities. Meanwhile, opioid-related deaths in the workplace have increased.

The South Carolina Municipal Insurance Trust, which started in 1984, has experienced approximately one death of an employee per year.

To decrease workplace fatalities, cities must move beyond their standard safety and wellness programs and find creative ways to engage their employees. The safety exposures in local government can be quite complex and difficult for a risk manager to oversee alone. Cities should "consider appointing select employees as safety, health and environmental ambassadors who could implement a Plan-Do-Act approach that helps control and monitor a cities' risk and exposure to workplace injuries and fatalities," according to Human Resource Executive magazine.

The City of Anderson designated a safety representative from each department to be responsible for assisting with accident investigations, departmental safety training, safety inspections and safety meetings. These individuals are trained and empowered to act on behalf of the city's risk manager.

SCMIT members have access to the following tools to reduce injuries in their cities:

  • LocalGovU online training services. Free classes cover safety topics such as confined space, trenching, and personal protective equipment. Employees without computer access can take advantage of the new enhancement that allows classroom-style training.
  • Onsite Training. Loss control has developed a listing of courses to include attention training/mindfulness, defensive driving, and substance abuse for member cities.
  • Safety calendar. The 2018 safety calendar can be used for departments, such as public works and sanitation, whose employees can't easily access a computer.

For more information on training opportunities, contact Venyke Harley, loss control manager, at vharley@masc.sc or 803.933.1210.