What’s one thing business execs often say after they experience an employee fatality in their workplace? “I never thought it’d happen here.” A new report sheds light on common situations that have led to workplace deaths.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) annual National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2008 shows transportation incidents were the most common cause of occupational fatalities. They accounted for 40%.
Contact with objects and equipment accounted for 18% of deaths; 10% of all deaths were caused when an employee was struck by an object or equipment.
- assaults and violent acts, 16%
- falls, 13%
- exposure to harmful substances or environments, 9%, and
- fire and explosion, 3%.
Overall, workplace fatalities decreased from 5,657 in 2007 to 5,071 in 2008. However, the fatality rate usually goes up after the initial BLS report because of cases not originally accounted for. Last year, an additional 169 deaths were eventually added to the final total.
BLS also notes that economic factors likely played a role in the fatality decrease. Average hours worked fell by 1% in 2008. Plus, some industries that have historically higher fatality rates, such as construction, experienced larger declines in employment.
Among increases in deaths:
- farming, fishing and forestry rose 6%
- those aged 16 or 17 rose 1.9%, and
- falls on the same level (to a floor or against an object) increased slightly.
The full BLS report is available here.