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Workplace deaths reach highest level since 2008

December 27th, 2016  |  David Stephanides

Underscoring the need for an ever-vigilant OSHA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its annual summary of fatal occupational injuries during 2015. A total of 4,836 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States—up slightly from the 4,821 fatal injuries reported in 2014, but also the highest number since 2008. In its release, the BLS noted that this is the first time it has published only an annual release of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). Going forward, preliminary releases historically issued in August or September will no longer be produced.

The BLS summarized the key findings:

  • Annual total of 4,836 fatal workplace injuries in 2015 was the highest since 5,214 fatal injuries in 2008.
  • The overall rate of fatal work injury for workers in 2015, at 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, was lower than the 2014 rate of 3.43.
  • Hispanic or Latino workers incurred 903 fatal injuries in 2015—the most since 937 fatalities in 2007.
  • Workers age 65 years and older incurred 650 fatal injuries, the second-largest number for the group since the national census began in 1992, but decreased from the 2014 figure of 684.
  • Roadway incident fatalities were up 9 percent from 2014 totals, accounting for over one-quarter of the fatal occupational injuries in 2015.
  • Workplace suicides decreased 18 percent in 2015; homicides were up 2 percent from 2014 totals.
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers recorded 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation. The 937 fatal work injuries in the private construction industry in 2015 represented the highest total since 975 cases in 2008.
  • Fatal injuries in the private oil and gas extraction industries were 38 percent lower in 2015 than 2014.
  • Seventeen percent of decedents were contracted by and performing work for another business or government entity in 2015 rather than for their direct employer at the time of the incident.

The CFOI for covering 2016 will be released in December 2017.

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