Workplace fatalities increased 2 percent in 2019; NIOSH creating new facemask efficiency standards

By January 5, 2021 No Comments

Workplace fatalities increased 2% in 2019

There were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2019, a 2% increase from the 5,250 in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported. 

The fatal work injury rate was 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, which was the rate reported in 2018. 

Key findings from the 2019 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries;

The 5,333 fatal occupational injuries in 2019 represents the largest annual number since 2007. 

Fatalities among workers age 55 and over increased eight percent from 1,863 in 2018 to 2,005 in 2019, which is the largest number ever recorded for this age group. 

Hispanic or Latino worker fatalities were up 13 percent to 1,088 in 2019–a series high since 1992. 

Workplace deaths due to suicides (307) and unintentional overdoses (313) increased slightly in 2019. Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol increased for the seventh consecutive year in 2019.

Fatalities in the private construction industry increased five percent to 1,061–the largest total since 2007. 

Driver/sales workers and truck drivers incurred 1,005 fatal occupational injuries, the highest since this series began in 2003.

NIOSH writing efficiency standards for consumer face masks

More than 100,000 varieties of face masks are currently for sale, according to an article in The New York Times.

A division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to develop minimum filter efficiency standards, and labels showing which products meet them. 

NIOSH has been quietly writing guidelines with an industry-standard-setting organization, ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials), that are expected to be made public next month. 

The effectiveness of masks can range “from 0 to 80 percent, depending on material composition, number of layers and layering bonding,” said Dale Pfriem, president of Protective Equipment Consulting Services and a member of the standards development working group addressing mask guidelines.

Just about any mask is better than no mask, public health experts say. The C.D.C. has updated its guidance on masks numerous times, noting that a tightly woven, multilayered fabric offers better protection than a mask made from a single layer of fabric or a loose knit — for both the wearer and the people with whom the wearer comes in contact.

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