‘Alarming' uptick in number of Floridians killed on job

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Experts said 55 people have died in the workplace since the beginning of the year, which is higher than normal.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration released the numbers Wednesday morning at a memorial service for those who were killed.

The Northeast Florida Safety Council organized the ceremony to honor people killed on the job in Northeast Florida last year and to raise awareness in order to prevent others from joining the list.

“It’s extremely frustrating when you see workers killed in situations that are clearly preventable,” said Jordan Barab, OSHA deputy assistant secretary of labor.

Barab came down from Washington, D.C., for the event to speak about the dangers local laborers are facing.

“It is important for everyone to remember that thousands of workers every year go to work in the morning and never come home at night,” Barab said.

Last year, 72 Floridians were killed on the job. And the numbers in the Sunshine State are up -- 55 workers have died so far this year.

“It’s a very alarming number. And because of that number, we need these associations, we need these controlling contractors, we need these homebuilders to do their due diligence,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA area director.

Sturtecky said his agency is working to cut down on the deaths, but the burden lies on employers, many whom aren't following the law.

“All of these are preventable incidents. These are not accidents. These are preventable incidents,” Sturtecky said.

It's why safety experts said they're working harder than ever.

“It is a shame. It's startling to hear the numbers even for those of us in the safety profession to be hit in the face with those types of numbers. Just rededicate you every day to get up and go to work and try to make the workplace safe and to spread the message to help other employers do the same,” said Leon Hearn with the Northeast Florida Safety Council.

Anyone who wants to find out how their company can get safety training free of charge, visit the Northeast Florida Safety Council website.

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