Safety and OSHA News

Workplace fatalities decreased in 2012

After two years of increases, the government reports workplace fatalities decreased in 2012 compared to 2011.

The preliminary total of occupational deaths last year is 4,383 (an average of 12 per day), down from 4,693 in 2011. The 2012 figure is the second lowest preliminary total since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started reporting it in 1992.

(The increase from preliminary to final fatality numbers has ranged between 2% and 5%. Even if the 2012 numbers increase by 5% when they are finalized, the number of workplace deaths in 2012 will still be down compared to 2011.)

The rate of fatal work injury in 2012 was 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from 3.5 in 2011.

Some key statistics from the BLS report:

  • Fatal work injuries in construction increased 5% in 2012. Total hours worked in construction increased by 1%.
  • Of all the fatalities, 16% of the workers were identified as contractors. The contractors who were killed were most often contracted by a government entity (21%), private construction (19%) and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (10%).
  • Fatal work injuries involving children under age 16 nearly doubled from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012. Fourteen of the teens were employed in agriculture.
  • Fatal work injuries in mining rose in 2012, led by an increase in fatal injuries to workers in oil and gas extraction, which went up 23%.
  • Transportation incidents accounted for more than two of every five fatal work injuries. About 58% were roadway incidents.
  • Overall, 767 workers were killed as a result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals. Shootings were the most frequent manner of death in homicides (81%).
  • Fatal falls, slips or trips claimed 668 worker lives, down slightly from 2011. Falls to a lower level accounted for 81% of those fatalities.
  • The number of workers fatally injured after being struck by objects or equipment increased by 7%.
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting fatalities decreased 16%.
  • The transportation and warehouse industry had a decrease of 10%. The number of fatal injuries in truck transportation decreased 6%.
  • The occupation category with the highest rate per 100,000 workers was logging at 127.8. The second category was fishers and related fishing workers at 117.0. Third was aircraft pilots and flight engineers at 53.4.
  • Sixteen states and Washington, DC, reported higher numbers of work fatalities, while 32 states had lower numbers. Two states reported the same numbers in 2011 and 2012.

New Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said, “No worker should lose their life for a paycheck.”

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