Workplace injuries and incidents continue to rise in Alabama

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 11:07 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Decatur Fire and Rescue responded to a rare workplace accident. This was after a worker was stuck shoulder-deep in soybeans for over three hours while crews tried to free him. It happened in a Silo at the Bunge Packing plant in Decatur.

For the last seven years, there have been around 100 workplace fatalities in Alabama. Just this fall, we had seven people here in the Tennessee Valley die on the clock, and the trend is not heading in the right direction.

”I have been here for 20 years and that is the first time we have had anything like that,” said Decatur Fire Deputy Chief Ashley England.

An emergency call - sent firefighters rushing to Bunge Packing Plant in Decatur for a man being buried alive by soybeans.

England says the man said he felt like he had hundreds of pounds on his chest.

“This issue we had…we moved the soybeans the other soybeans come back on top of it. Plus this was in a Silo and all the soybeans were above us. We were just trying to prevent those from coming down on everybody,” said England.

After three hours, firefighters saved the man and he’s okay. But, workplace injuries and accidents are frequent here in Alabama and not everyone is so lucky…

In 2019, 89 people were killed on the job in Alabama, according to the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Executive Director of the University of Alabama’s Safe State Program, Donald Elswick says that number continues to trend upward.

“The top states with the highest rate of severe workplace injuries, Alabama is at number 6 and we haven’t seen a reversal on that trend,” said Elswick.

UA Safe State has a team of trained and certified safety consultants who travel around the state accessing work sites.

“We strive to educate workers and ensure they understand certain areas: Confined spaces, heights or elevated work, energy control,” said Elswick.

The cost of a Safe State consultation- free. Their goal is to prevent these tragedies from happening.

“Anything we are doing that is a high risk, we want to go in and help employers reduce that risk. We are very much at the employer’s discretion. We want to go in and help them out,” said Elswick.

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