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BLS: On-the-job deaths at highest level since 2008

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Washington – A total of 4,836 deaths due to workplace injuries occurred in 2015 – a 0.3 percent increase over 2014 and the most since 5,214 workers died in 2008, according to data released Dec. 16 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Other highlights from the 2015 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

  • The 903 deaths among Hispanic or Latino workers and 495 deaths among African-American workers were the most since 2007 and 2008, respectively.
  • 650 deaths occurred among workers age 65 and older – the second-highest total among this demographic since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries began in 1992.
  • Roadway incident fatalities climbed 9 percent to 1,264, accounting for 26 percent of all fatal work-related injuries in 2015.
  • The private construction industry recorded 937 deaths, the highest total since 975 in 2008.
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers experienced 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation.
  • Fatal injuries among private oil and gas extraction workers were 38 percent lower in 2015 than 2014.
  • The states with the highest number of worker deaths were Texas with 527, followed by California with 388, Florida with 272 and New York with 236.

Although the overall rate of fatal workplace injuries fell to 3.38 per 100,000 in 2015 from 3.43 per 100,000 in 2014, the rise in the number of fatalities alarmed officials.

“These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires,” Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a press release. “We have a moral responsibility to make sure that workers who showed up to work today are still alive to punch the clock tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, AFL-CIO Director of Safety and Health Peg Seminario sounded a warning for the future. “The bottom line is that working people in this country need more safety and health protection – not less,” Seminario said in a statement. “The new administration’s actions on worker safety will be an important measure of whether they are keeping their campaign promises to improve the lives of workers.”

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