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An official with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging companies in south central Pennsylvania to review their safety plans and take corrective actions after seeing a 30 percent increase in workplace fatalities this year.
In recent years, the agency has reported 14 and 15 fatalities annually in the region. But in this current fiscal year, which started Oct. 1, 2021, the number stands at 21, with six weeks still to go until the end, said Kevin Chambers, director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Office in Harrisburg.
Eight of those have occurred in York County, according to the agency. The causes have been attributed to COVID-19 and injuries suffered on the job, such as equipment problems.
Chambers said the increase in deaths has been weighing on his heart and mind. They are not happening in one particular industry, and there’s not one specific cause.
“We’re asking that all of the south central Pennsylvania employers take the time to evaluate the workplace safety and health programs,” he said.
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They should find and fix any hazards, employ the necessary proper protections and take corrective actions so “workers can … go home unharmed to their families at the end of the day,” Chambers said.
Smaller employers, such as those with up to 250 employees, can request a free safety and health consultation visit from a program run by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
A team of highly educated and credentialed safety and health professionals will meet with an employer, conduct internal assessments, assist with training, and help with corrective actions.
“… they just do a stellar job, and they’re just wonderful people to work with,” he said.
Deaths are highly preventable, coroner says
Companies that do report a fatality can face citations with or without penalties.
York County Coroner Pam Gay said workplace deaths can be caused by unsafe work areas or human error. Sometimes it’s a little bit of both.
Sometimes employers and employees take a shortcut, such as not using all the safety components and not operating machinery as intended.
“That one shortcut can cost people their lives,” she said.
Similar accidents happen when people are working around their homes.
Most of the deaths are highly preventable, Gay said.
Workplace fatalities reported in York County
Here are the workplace fatalities reported in York County so far this fiscal …….