ATLANTA — Georgia’s workplace fatalities declined 23 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
There were 33 deaths at Georgia work sites last year, recently revised from the 30 deaths originally reported by the Department of Labor two weeks ago. Two of those deaths were in the Augusta area. There were 43 workplace deaths in 2011.
The most recent local death happened in June 2012, when Jevon Maloy, an employee with Electrical Contractors Inc., was electrocuted as he worked at the Richmond County Career Technical Magnet School construction site on the Augusta Technical College campus. In March, Tracy-Luckey plant manager Homer Gay died after being hit in the head with a compressed air pipe that he was installing at the Harlem pecan processing facility.
The higher, revised statewide number still represents nearly one-quarter fewer fatalities than in 2011. Of those, 13 were in construction, 16 from general industry, one from the maritime trades and three from agriculture.
The new figure represents a 48 percent drop from five years ago, but OSHA officials note that the 2008 total was unusually elevated by the 14 deaths caused by the explosion of the Imperial Sugar plant in Garden City.
Eight people have died in workplace accidents in Richmond and Columbia counties since 2008, according to a breakdown of statewide figures compiled by OSHA. Statewide, the number of deadly falls declined by half in the past five years, and the number of workers killed by being struck by vehicles or materials declined by 54 percent.
The weak economy likely contributed to some of the improvement because there were fewer people at work, and they were usually more senior employees.
Some companies are using technology to improve training as well as supervision to ensure that property safety techniques are being applied, according to Bryan Schmode, the executive vice president of Avigilon, a company that sells high-definition cameras.
“As the economy improves and hiring increases, organizations need to be able to ensure that their new employees are properly trained. HD surveillance can help ensure employees are following the proper procedures, whether it’s providing excellent customer service or following safety requirements,” he said.
On-the-job training and employee participation in safety programs is crucial for maintaining a safe work environment, said Brian Rogers, the project manager for Hardy Cryogenics, a division of Hardy Welding & Piping Services based in Appling.
Rogers’ company has 24 such safety programs, including ones for fall protection and personal protective equipment, for its small group of welders and pipe fitters who work in hospitals, plants and government buildings across the nation.
Rogers said he’s noticed that in the past five to 10 years, many facilities have enhanced their safety measures in addition to offering their own safety programs for contracted workers entering the site.
“There’s more and more plants with their emphasis on safety,” Rogers said. “It’s the No. 1 priority for us.”