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SD worker-comp council seeks to know more on job deaths

PIERRE -- The state workers-compensation advisory council decided Thursday there should be a look at why the federal government reports more deaths of people on the job in South Dakota than state government does.

Mark Anderson, who represents the South Dakota AFL-CIO labor organization, suggested the topic. Anderson said federal reports showed an average of approximately 30 worker deaths annually in South Dakota in the past decade. He said the number of deaths for the years 2005 through 2011 ranged from 22 to 37. That's two to three times more than the number presented by state government. James Marsh, director for the state Division of Labor and Management, said his office reports only the deaths that fall under worker-comp coverage and they typically are in the single digits.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics receives reports from broader sources about deaths while working. "They have access to other information we don't have," Marsh said.

The council's chairman, Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, asked that Marsh research the matter. "Mark's point is interesting," Michels said. "We'll bring that to our next meeting."