THE WASHINGTON STATE Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program is funded by NIOSH. Through the program, staff tracks acute occupational fatalities in the state, conducts targeted research investigations, and disseminates findings and educational material. Acute trauma fatalities are identified as events that occurred in the state to a person conducting work during the course of formal employment. The cases are identified and information is gathered from various sources, including the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), Department of Public Health, coroners/medical examiners, newspapers/media and federal agencies. The case definition and program priorities for Washington state's FACE Program largely follow the direction of NIOSH's FACE Program. However, each funded state has the opportunity to focus on specific areas and industries, which often vary by the region and makeup of industry in the state. Construction incident fatality narratives were developed by the Washington state FACE Program with the goal of providing tools for education and conducting training sessions directly with workers and companies. The one-page descriptions of the incident include bullet-point lists of best practice recommendations or requirements that could have prevented the death. Although the controls are meant to respond to the specific incident, they often apply to more general situations as well, such as hazards associated with falling from heights. The narratives are developed initially by a research analyst who reviews case information such as the industrial insurance report, industry safety inspection investigation and media reports. The document then is completed by a safety engineer who researches preventive measures and applicable solutions. The level of research and analysis involved is more limited than that involved with a full fatality investigation, but possible incident root causes, including human factors issues, supervisory procedures and communication, are evaluated. The recommendations are focused on prevention, not compliance. However, in many cases these are one in the same and are identified by an exclamation mark as a bullet symbol before the recommendation description in the narrative. The resulting narrative is then finalized with input from the state DOSH (the state's OSHA plan).

The Focus on Construction

The fatality narratives were developed after an analysis of industry impact potential. Review of acute work-related fatality data for the state revealed that the construction industry consistently had both the highest count (16 per year) and rate (8.7 per 100,000 workers) by industry on a year-to-year basis. The industry also has opportunities for outreach and dissemination because of an industry focus on safety, particularly in the western part of the state. General contractors have focused significant resources on safety and health to reduce costs associated with injury risk and to improve bidding status. The trend to not award subcontracts to companies with higher injury experience factors has prompted more companies to provide resources for safety and injury prevention. Additionally, the Puget Sound region has a long history of voluntary construction safety organizations, which makes it easier to distribute information and develop contacts. One informal organization of construction safety professionals has been meeting for more than 50 years, and another is the largest monthly meeting of construction safety personnel in salaried employees; and 6% were owners or supervisors.

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