Workplace Fatalities See Largest Increase in Almost a Decade

February 12, 2018

At the end of December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 2016, and the news was bleak. The BLS reports that there were 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2016, which represents a 7% increase over the 4,836 fatal injuries the previous year. This is the third consecutive increase in workplace fatalities, and the first time that there have been more than 5,000 fatalities recorded by the CFOI since 2008.

Types of fatal workplace incidents

The following is a breakdown from the BLS which details the types of fatal incidents that occurred in workplaces throughout the United States:

  • Transportation incidents were the most common fatal events in 2016, which accounted for 40% of the deaths (2,083)
  • Violence and injuries by persons or animals was the second-most common fatal incident (866)
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments rose 22%
  • Fires and explosion deaths decreased 27%
  • Falls, slips and trips increased 6% in 2016
  • Falls increased more than 25% for roofers, carpenters, tree pruners and commercial truck drivers
  • Overdoses from the non-medical use of drugs or alcohol saw a 32% increase (217)

Interestingly, mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction and manufacturing saw large decreases in workplace fatalities in 2016 as they were down 26%. Fatal injuries in the leisure and hospitality sector were up 32% reaching an all-time high in 2016 due to a 40% increase in fatal injuries in the food services and drinking places industry.

The BLS reports that 36 states had more fatal workplace injuries in 2016 than in 2015, 13 states and the District of Columbia had fewer fatalities and Wyoming had the same number as they had the previous year.

In a statement about the worker fatality report, OSHA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said, “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. 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.”

Every worker has a right to a safe workplace. When employers and employees work together to focus on safety, fewer workers will die needlessly. If you get injured on the job, notify your supervisor of the incident, seek medical attention and file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Pennsylvania workers have 21 days to report a work injury to their employer. If an employee fails to give notice within the 21-day time limit, their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may delay payment of benefits. After 120 days, the employee loses the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits.

If you have been injured at work, you are welcome to complete our contact form or call 888.PITT.LAW to schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates. Our skilled attorneys help injured workers obtain the benefits they deserve. We are proud to serve clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.