INDIANAPOLIS – The number of workplace deaths in Indiana declined in 2012 to the lowest level in the last two decades, according to a new report by the state Department of Labor.
The report, released Thursday, said Indiana had 113 worker deaths last year – a 7 percent decline from the 122 deaths during 2011.
Almost half of Indiana’s 2012 worker deaths were transportation related, which agency officials said they were working to reduce.
State labor commissioner Sean Keefer said he welcomed the decline in deaths, but that more work needed to be done.
“The record-low number of workplace deaths means everyone, employers and employees alike, are doing a better job of protecting the Hoosier workforce,” Keefer said.
Indiana’s number of workplace deaths has been generally declining since reaching at least 190 fatalities twice in the 1990s. The current accounting of workplace fatalities began in 1992, the agency said.
Construction worker deaths in Indiana rose to 20 from 19 in 2011. Manufacturing, meanwhile, had 10 deaths during 2012 – four fewer than a year before.
The agency said more than half of the state’s 56 transportation-related workplace deaths involved vehicle crashes.
Early this year, the Department of Labor started programs aimed at cutting down on fatal vehicles accidents at the workplace.
The agency has worked with trucking companies and construction firms, and even appealed directly to truckers through an interview on SiriusXM Radio’s Road Dog Trucking show, department spokesman Bob Dittmer told The Times of Munster.
The state agency is also talking to businesses that traditionally employ teenagers, such as pizza delivery businesses, about how to discourage texting while driving.
Public service announcements, including one by Gov. Mike Pence’s college-age daughter Charlotte, target teens who might have summer jobs or part-time jobs during the school year.
“In the very brief about of time it takes to quickly respond to a text while driving 55 mph, during that very brief period, you travel a football field and a half in length,” Dittmer said.
“You’re basically driving blind for 150 yards. That’s nuts. It’s extremely dangerous, and that’s one of the things we’ve been trying to show.”