APS Worker Among Thousands Of On-The-Job Fatalities In U.S.

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - 3:10pm
Arizona Public Service
Rick Castillo.

Electrician Rick Castillo, killed earlier this week in an underground explosion in downtown Phoenix, falls into a category that sadly encompasses between 4,000 and 5,000 workers each year: people who suffer “preventable” deaths on the job.

“Preventable deaths,” according to the nonprofit National Safety Council, means fatalities at work excluding those from natural causes or intentional events like suicide or homicide. The council tracks and analyzes workplace deaths and injuries using Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census data. 

The preventable death rate for utility workers in 2017 was 2.1 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. This includes workers in electric power generation, transmission, and distribution, natural gas distribution, and water, sewage and other systems.

“We don’t know what happened exactly in this particular incident, and we’ll let the investigation kind of play itself out,” said Maureen Vogel, a spokeswoman at the council. “But it is true that, by and large, the electrical industry has a lot of safety protocol, and they take great pride in that.”

The highest preventable death rate in 2017 was in agriculture, with 22.6 deaths for every 100,000 workers, followed by transportation and warehousing (14.1), mining (12.6) and construction (9.1). 

Castillo, an APS employee, died Sunday night. A second worker suffered burns to his hands and face. The accident is still under investigation.

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