BLS: On-the-job deaths down slightly in 2017
Washington — A total of 5,147 workers died as a result of on-the-job injuries in 2017 – a 0.8 percent decrease from 2016 – according to data released Dec. 18 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The data, from the national Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, also shows that the overall rate of fatal workplace injuries fell to 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers from 3.6 in 2016.
- 887 fatal falls occurred in 2017, the most since the census began in 1992.
- Deaths related to unintentional overdoses from nonmedical drug or alcohol use while at work rose 25 percent to 272. Fatal injuries in this category have climbed by at least 25 percent for five straight years.
- Transportation-related fatalities – which fell slightly to 2,077 – accounted for 40 percent of all fatal work-related injuries.
- Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers experienced 840 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation. The farming, fishing and forestry industries had the highest recorded rate of fatal injuries, at 20.9 per 100,000 FTE.
- Fatal injuries among private mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction workers climbed 26 percent to 112 after the industries experienced a series low of 89 in 2016.
- 775 deaths occurred among workers age 65 and older, an increase of 87 from 2016. Overall, 15 percent of fatally injured workers were 65 and older, the highest proportion for that demographic since the census began.
- The private manufacturing industry and wholesale trade industry recorded 303 and 174 deaths, respectively, the lowest totals since data for that subset was first recorded in 2003.
- The states with the highest number of worker deaths were Texas with 534, followed by California (376), New York (313) and Florida (299).
“While today’s report shows a decline in the number of workplace fatalities, the loss of even one worker is too many,” OSHA acting administrator Loren Sweatt said in a Dec. 18 press release. “Through comprehensive enforcement and compliance assistance that includes educating job creators about their responsibilities under the law, and providing robust education opportunities to workers, OSHA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the American workforce.”
In a statement also released Dec. 18, AFL-CIO Director of Safety and Health Peg Seminario said the incoming Congress must prioritize “strengthening job safety protections and preventing unnecessary worker deaths, injuries and diseases.”
The data release is the second of two annual BLS reports. The first, released Nov. 8, highlighted nonfatal injuries and illnesses among private-sector employees.