Death on the job; tragedies, compression, blood and assorted mayhem

Charmingly, perhaps malevolently, in the URL, they are referred to as “fatcat” reports, a shortened hybrid of “fatality/catastrophe.” Published by the US Department of Labor, they are a horrendous summary of weekly on-the-job accidental deaths, hence the presence of the OSHA monikers. The description of said reports, referred to as the Weekly Reports of Fatalities, Catastrophes, and Other Events, is stated thus:

This table provides links to weekly summaries of fatalities and catastrophes resulting in the hospitalization of three or more workers. Employers must report these incidents to OSHA within eight hours. The summaries below include only preliminary information, as reported to OSHA Area Offices or to States which operate OSHA-approved State Plans. OSHA investigates all work-related fatalities and catastrophes. Once an OSHA investigation is complete, the summary report will be updated with a webpage link to the corresponding inspection, which will list citation information.

A weekly listing of reports dating back to October, 2012, follows For those interested in older incidents of workplace mayhem, there is also another area called the Fatalities and Catastrophe Archive page.

A quick perusal of random OSHA-reported accidents will let you read countless battles of man vs machinery, and the outcomes always favors the machine. You’ll read brief summaries of workers getting pressed, flattened, dropped, electrocuted, baked…the manners of occupational death are endless. You will learn that falling from a six-foot ladder can have fatal consequences, and you will witness the catastrophic damage that tree limbs and runaway tractors can create, and who would have guessed so many people are crushed to death on the job in the course of a regular week?

This is fodder for the demented. Who can find entertainment value in this stuff? Besides me.

When we think of occupational death, dramatic failures of good sense and rampaging steel machinery turned on its operators with bloody, meaty results, comes to mind. Reading the summaries is disconcerting because the dearth of specifics leads a sick mind like my own to ruminate on the incident in question, and further, to create a small narrative in order to fill in the back story, however inaccurate it might be. Bolstered by my bleak imagination, the back story is always gruesomely vivid and unfailingly horrifying.

The one fatality which caught my eye and provided an endless mysterious imaginary narrative regards the real estate agent in Indiana who, while showing a house to prospective buyers, was killed when the simple light switch she flicked on triggered a gas-driven ball of fire that burned her lethally.

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Holy crap!

I’ve heard of this but I’ve always suspected it was an exaggerated urban myth. What crappy luck the poor lady had. I wonder if her customers still bought the house, or at least asked for a continuation of the tour from another unscathed real estate agent? Those people are typically so money-hungry and ruthlessly aggressive, I can very well imagine a back-up was waiting to continue the sale once the charred realtor was taken away. I wonder if an incident like this might put a damper on house-hunting for a while. “Honey, let’s just stay in this apartment a litte longer…”

And the date. That damned date! Who the hell wants to receive a call like that on April Fool’s Day? This is the last day of the year you’d want your sense of tragedy hinging on a fluke event.