April 18, 2016
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Worker deaths in Washington drop to near-historic low in 2015

The number of people dying on the job or from workplace-related injuries and illnesses continues to decline, and has been dropping by about 3.5 percent a year over the last decade. The data comes from the just released 2015 Washington State Work-Related Fatalities Report.

Last year, 58 people died on the job or from workplace-related injuries and accidents. That number is down by 18 from the 2014 rate. Only 2011 (with 53 fatalities) and 2013 (with 54) had lower numbers of workplace-related deaths.

"The decline in these numbers means more people avoided serious workplace incidents and were able to go home safe and healthy," said state Labor and Industries (L&I) Director Joel Sacks. "We're working closely with businesses and workers in our state to improve safety, and this trend shows we're making progress. That's encouraging, but there's more to do."

Falls continue to be the leading cause of workplace deaths. A quarter of those who died on the job last year died from falls. A third of those fatal falls were from ladders. L&I notes that even a fall from a ladder just six to 10 feet high can be fatal.

The news comes shortly before the state’s annual Worker Memorial Day. AWB General Counsel Bob Battles will speak on behalf of the state’s employers at the ceremony, joining the Washington State Labor Council and families of those who lost loved ones on the job in 2015 for the event April 28 at the L&I headquarters in Tumwater. AWB has the story of last year’s ceremony at Olympia Business Watch.

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Support Redevelopment to Create Jobs

Remove the barriers to prosperity

By Lee Newgent, Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO; Larry Brown, Aerospace Machinists Union District Lodge 751; and Vince O'Halloran, Sailors' Union of the Pacific

Communities across our state are being rocked by the loss of jobs from closures of viable industry and manufacturing -- such as the Alcoa plant in Wenatchee. At the same time, we are facing extreme resistance to use or repurpose sites that have been closed, symptomatic of a growing and devastating "deindustrialization" sentiment. Examples include opposition to the proposal to use a former Alcoa plant for the Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Longview, and the proposal in Tacoma -- now on hold -- to convert a former aluminum smelter into a methanol refinery.

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Each of these issues can and must be addressed immediately by state leaders.

Click here to read the full op-ed in The Wenatchee World
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Click here to read the full op-ed in The Hill
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