Safety and OSHA News

5,190 worker deaths in 2016, highest since 2008

More U.S. workers were killed on the job in 2016 than in any of the previous seven years. 

The 5,190 work fatalities represent a 7% increase from 4,836 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is the third consecutive increase. In recent years, deaths dropped to a low of 4,551 in 2009.

The fatal injury rate increased to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers from 3.4 in 2015 – the highest rate since 2010.

At 5,190 deaths in a year, that’s the equivalent of 14 workers dying on the job per day.

Deaths from transportation incidents remained the most common fatal event in 2016, accounting for 40 percent. The second most common incident was violence and other injuries by persons or animals, which increased 23% year-to-year. Two other types of incidents with large changes were exposure to harmful substances or environments (up 22%) and fire and explosions (down 27%).

The report also shows:

  • Fatal injuries from falls, slips or trips continued an upward trend that began in 2011, increasing 6 percent. Falls increased more than 25% in 2016 for roofers, carpenters, tree trimmers and pruners, and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.
  • Overdoses from non-medical use of drugs or alcohol while on the job increased 32 percent.
  • Fatal injuries among transportation and material moving occupations increased 7 percent – the highest count since 2007.
  • Other occupations with large increases include: food prep and serving (64%); installation, maintenance, and repair (20%); building and ground cleaning and maintenance (14%); and sales (11%).
  • Other occupations with significant declines include: healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (19%); military (15%); and production (14%).
  • A number of occupations recorded their highest fatality counts in 2016 since 2003, including: first line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers; landscaping and groundskeeping workers; roofers; tree trimmers and pruners; driver/sales workers; automotive service technicians and mechanics; and farm workers.
  • Fatal work injuries among protective service occupations (ex. first responders) increased 32 percent. Police officer homicides were up 50 percent.
  • Foreign-born workers make up about 20% of the total fatal work injuries.
  • Workers age 55 and over had the highest number of deaths since 1992. These workers have a higher fatality rate than other age groups.
  • Thirty-six states had more fatal workplace injuries in 2016 than 2015, while 13 states and the District of Columbia had fewer. Wyoming had the same number in 2016 as in 2015.
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