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Danger At Work

Work in this country is a lot safer than it was 40 years ago. That's when the federal government mandated safe workplaces for all American workers. Yet thousands of Americans still die on the job each year; several million are hurt.

This five–part series explores the causes and consequences of unsafe working conditions in Washington state.

Our investigation found that safety laws are poorly enforced, leaving many workers exposed to unsafe, even violent, workplaces.

"Danger at Work" was reported, produced and photographed by John Ryan and edited by Jim Gates.

construction worker
Seattle City Light lineworkers head to work without using their safety harnesses. For most tower climbers, that would be illegal. View slideshow on Flickr. Photo by John Ryan.

Lineworkers Bring Power To The People, Without A Net

Monday, July 11, 2011

In other industries, federal law mandates the use of safety equipment any time employees get a few feet off the ground. But it's perfectly legal for electrical lineworkers to climb high overhead with no protection. In fact, it's the industry standard.

spacer Inspectors pay more attention to construction workers' safety than anyone else's. View KUOW analysis (PDF).

Workplace Safety Inspections Miss Their Target

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Someone dies on the job in Washington state about every four days. Somebody reports being injured every few hours. KUOW has found that workplace safety laws are rarely enforced. When state officials do try to enforce the law, they often look in the wrong places.

spacer Security officer Marc Miller guards the entrance to the Tacoma General Hospital ER. Photo by John Ryan.

Violence In The ER

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The most violent profession in Washington state isn't a cop or security guard or corrections officer — it's a nurse's aide. And registered nurses are next in line.

spacer Union members protest violence at Western State Hospital. Photo by John Ryan.

Mental Hospital Staff Bear Brunt Of Workplace Violence

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The most violent workplace in Washington is a hospital — the state's largest psychiatric hospital. For people who work at Western State Hospital in Lakewood, danger and injury are facts of life, just as mental illness is a fact of life for the people they care for.

spacer 92 people died on the job last year in Washington state. Photo by John Ryan.

Remembering Washington's Fallen Workers

Friday, July 15, 2011

Last year's refinery blast in Anacortes killed seven and made national news. Most people who die on the job get much less attention. KUOW's John Ryan sent in this audio postcard from a ceremony for all 92 Washingtonians who didn't make it home from work last year.