A man walks on scaffolding used for the ongoing construction of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on the southeast corner of Colby Avenue and Wall Street in downtown Everett on Tuesday.

A man walks on scaffolding used for the ongoing construction of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on the southeast corner of Colby Avenue and Wall Street in downtown Everett on Tuesday.

Falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths, injuries

EVERETT — At least nine people who lived or worked in Snohomish County have died from job-related injuries since November 2014.

Those nine were among 84 people statewide whose lives were honored April 28 at a memorial ceremony held by the Department of Labor and Industries.

Five of the county’s job-related deaths occurred as the result of falls from a ladder, scaffolding or other equipment, according to the state. Several of the deaths in the county were the result of complications from workplace injuries sustained years ago, including ladder falls.

Falls also were the leading cause of worker deaths statewide, followed by car crashes, said Elaine Fischer, an agency spokeswoman. Men make up the majority of those killed at work in Washington. Six of the 2015 deaths were homicides.

This year, about half of the state’s fatalities involved workers who were 50 or older.

That’s unusual, Fischer said, because younger people generally work in the higher-risk professions, which include logging, construction and manufacturing.

The statewide list includes three U.S. Forest Service firefighters who died in a crash during a wildfire last summer in Eastern Washington.

Snohomish County’s lost lives included Steven Bartel, 66. He was the owner of an Everett-based company that coordinated motorcade escorts. Bartel succumbed to injuries from a motorcycle accident during a funeral motorcade, according to the report. Everett barber Paul Chachulski, 65, fell from a ladder at work, as did Marjorie Reed, 58, who stocked shelves at the Lake Stevens Target. Fall victim David West Jr., 56, was a technician at Boeing.

The youngest local victim was a 31-year-old carpenter who fell from a roof. The oldest was 80. He succumbed to injuries received when he fell from scaffolding in 2001 while working as a siding installer.

The nine Snohomish County cases might include people who lived or died elsewhere but worked for local employers. Not listed are people who suffered serious, life-changing injuries but survived.

The numbers are never exact because the state might not be notified of work-related deaths until years later, if ever. Some years, there are no deaths reported at Snohomish County workplaces. Because of the role work plays in people’s lives, job sites can become the location for other types of deaths, including homicide and suicide. Last year’s homicides included a robbery, a disgruntled worker and an incidence of domestic violence.

The annual memorial ceremony is part of the state’s commitment to preventing workplace deaths, and coming together to remember, L&I Director Joel Sacks said.

In addition to the memorial ceremony, the state produces an annual report on worker deaths. The deaths have been declining in Washington since the early 2000s.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

Ladder safety

*Inspect ladders for damage at least once a year and before each use.

*Set them on dry, hard and flat ground, about a quarter of the ladder’s usable length from the wall. If using a supporting wall, make sure it’s not slippery.

*Test the ladder for stability before climbing.

*Never sit, stand or step on the top rung. Keep your weight balanced in the middle of the ladder.

*Avoid using ladders in the rain.

*Avoid carrying heavy objects up the ladder. Consider using a rope to pull up the items.

*Be especially careful if you’re older. Half of ladder deaths are people 65 and older. More than a third of ladder-related hospitalizations involved the same population.

Sources: Snohomish County Fire District 1 and Snohomish County Fire District 7

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