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How many workplace accidents are truly “accidental”?

In a recent article, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Administration commented on the fact that any employee injury or death can always be linked back to a decision made by an employer or supervisor to do something or the neglect to do something. He said the recent dramatization of a 2010 oil rig explosion called Deepwater Horizon demonstrates how such tragedies come about. He emphasized that most workplace accidents in New York and elsewhere are not at all accidental, but preventable and predictable incidents.

Eleven rig workers lost their lives and 17 more suffered injuries in that explosion that occurred 40 miles off shore. He explained that the investigation into that disaster showed that the oil giant’s efforts to bring about insignificant savings led to the loss of lives, traumatic injuries and subsequent losses of over $60 billion. Investigators could work back from the blast to the cause and determined that like most such tragedies, it was preventable.

He also said there is nothing complicated about preventing the loss of limbs and lives. Employers who are committed to workplace safety spend the money to install devices that can prevent contact with moving machine parts, and to buy fall protection. This yields significant savings because insurance premiums are controllable, and production is not affected by absent workers who suffer preventable on-the-job injuries.

Employees of New York companies that do not prioritize workers’ safety may be concerned about their chances of being victims of workplace accidents. It is only natural for employees to worry about their abilities to care for their families in these circumstances. Fortunately, the New York workers’ compensation program provides benefits to cover medical and/or end-of-life expenses along with a percentage of the victim’s lost income.

Source:, “OSHA chief: Workplace deaths are ‘rarely accidental’“, Jan. 3, 2017

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