WEST VALLEY CITY — The rumble of heavy equipment filled the area Monday as workers demonstrated proper safety around cranes, backhoes and forklifts.
The demonstrations came at the start of Workplace Safety Week, an effort to promote safety and minimize the number of accidents throughout the state.
In Utah, 48 people died as a result of workplace injuries last year, and organizers hope the campaign for workplace safety will help reduce that number.
"One of the things that surprises me is that Utah is actually still above the national average for workplace injuries," said Kathryn Clark, vice president of safety and health for WCF Insurance, and a partner of the campaign. "The whole idea is to get people involved in different safety activities to focus our attention back on how workplace injuries really affect people."
Clark said that Utah sees 3.5 injuries per 100 workers, while the national average is about 3 per 100 workers. While the injury rate was starting to decrease, she said the fatality rate in Utah and across the nation has not changed.
According to Clark, the notable causes of death were along roadways and from falls. She said the high levels of roadway construction activity and the overall amount of agricultural labor are likely causes for Utah's high injury rates.
The safety campaign began after Senate Minority Whip Karen Mayne, D-Salt Lake City, led a 2014 legislative effort to address Utah's above-average rate of workplace accidents. Utah's Workplace Safety Week is now in its third year of recognition.
The Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 training site played host to the ongoing safety demonstrations during Monday's kickoff of Workplace Safety Week. The training site typically offers specialized instruction and certification training for mining safety, hazardous materials training, first-aid instruction, as well as crane and forklift operator certifications. The site also offers upgrades and refresher courses for apprentices and journeymen and teaches workers to operate and repair other heavy equipment.
The training site reports that it provided more than 15,600 training hours last year, and that number continues to grow each year. Annually, the site trains about 80 apprentices and about 200 journeymen, and further trains more than a thousand workers for mining and occupational safety.
The safety campaign includes assistance from the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Transit Authority, the Salt Lake City Department of Airports, Industrial Supply, the Utah Labor Commission, the Utah Manufacturers Association, the Utah Restaurant Association, the Utah Safety Council as well as the Associated Builders and Contractors, and Associated General Contractors.