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Workplace Fatalities Highest in Almost a Decade

Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ released their annual census on fatal occupational injuries for 2016.  According to the report, there were 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016, a 7% increase from 2015 and the highest since 2008. The fatal injury rate also increased from 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2015 to 3.6 in 2016.

Transportation incidents were once again the leading cause of workplace fatalities.  They were responsible for 40% of worker deaths (2,083). Workplace violence injuries were the second most common cause of workplace deaths with 866 (up 23% from last year).  The third most common was injuries from falls, slips, or trips with 849 (6% increase).  Fatal falls, slips, and trips have seen a continued upward trend since 2011.  Arguably the most alarming trend is that the number of overdoses on the job increased by 32% in 2016, and the number of fatalities has increased by at least 25% annually since 2012.

Two other workplace injuries that saw drastic changes in fatalities between 2015 and 2016 were exposure to harmful substances or environment (22% increase) and fires and explosions (27% decrease).

“Today’s occupational fatality data show a tragic trend with the third consecutive increase in worker fatalities in 2016, the highest since 2008. America’s workers deserve better,” says OSHA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt in a statement regarding the report.  “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways of working with employers and employees to improve workplace safety and health. OSHA will work to address these trends through enforcement, compliance assistance, education and training, and outreach.”