The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted new Fatal Occupational Injuries Data for 2017 in December regarding deaths from on-the-job injuries for 2017. According to the News Release, 5,147 deaths occurred in 2017 from workplace injuries, a slight decrease from 5,190 deaths in 2016. This decrease broke a three-year trend of increases in workplace fatalities. Construction reported 971 deaths and 303 in manufacturing.
The BLS Fatal Occupational Injuries Data for 2017 reports work injuries involving transportation incidents remained the most common fatal event, accounting for 40% of work-related deaths. However, fatal falls are at their highest level since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) tracking began, accounting for 17% of all work related fatalities. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals decreased 7% in 2017 with homicides and suicides decreasing by 8% and 5%, respectively.
Overdoses from the non-medical use of drugs or alcohol while on the job have increased at an alarming rate. There were 165 deaths reported in 2015, 217 deaths reported in 2016, and 272 reported in 2017. For the fifth consecutive year, unintentional workplace overdose deaths have increased by at least 25%.
According to the CFOI, crane-related fatalities decreased to their lowest level ever recorded, 33 deaths in 2017.
Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers suffered the most fatal workplace injuries in terms of civilian occupations. This group accounted for 987 (19%) of the 5,147 fatalities. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers suffered 258 deaths and roofers with 91 were the second and third highest. Of those 258 farmer, rancher, and other agricultural manger deaths, 162 were over the age 65 and 48 were 80 years old or older. Of the 258 deaths, 103 (40%) involved a tractor. The BLS projects the agricultural sectors (include forestry, fishing, and hunting, as well as crop and animal production) to grow 1.4 percent annually during the 2016 – 2026 decade. This increase compares favorably with the 0.5% annual decline of workers in the agricultural sector from 2006 to 2016. Aircraft pilots/flight engineers and logging workers are among the top five occupations with the highest fatality rate. Fishers and related fishing workers had the highest fatal injury rate.
Other findings include:
- Slips, trips, and fall fatalities increased 4% from 849 to 887
- There was a 15% increase in fatal occupational injuries in confined spaces (166 in 2017 from 144 in 2016)
- Contact with objects and equipment decreased 9%
- Workers in Community and Social Service occupations, Personal Care and Service occupations, and Office and Administrative Support occupations saw a greater than 20% increase in workplace fatalities from 2016 to 2017 .
- There was a 19% decrease in worker deaths resulting from exposure to harmful substances or environments. All Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environment sub categories showed a worker death decrease:
- Exposure to electricity: 10% decrease
- Exposure to temperature extremes: 35% decrease
- Exposure to other harmful substances: 24% decrease
For demographic characteristics, 4,761 deaths were men and 386 deaths were women. The age group reporting the most deaths was 55 to 64 years (1,155). Workers in the age group of 65 or older accounted for 15% of the fatalities in 2017. This is a series high from the CFOI published data. The BLS projects by 2026 the age group 55 and older will be 38.9% of the total workforce.
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