Safety and OSHA News

Workplace fatalities increase 2% in 2018

After a slight decline in 2017, the number of workplace deaths increased by 2% in 2018.

There were 5,250 fatal work injuries recorded in the U.S. in 2018, up from 5,147 in 2017, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The fatal work injury rate didn’t change, remaining at 2017’s 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the BLS report states.

Why the increase in fatalities?

  • Incidents involving contact with objects and equipment rose 13%, from 695 to 786, due to a 39% increase in workers caught in running equipment or machinery and a 17% increase in workers struck by falling objects or equipment.
  • Unintentional overdoses due to non-medical use of drugs or alcohol at work increased for the sixth straight year from 272 to 305, up 12%.
  • Violence and other injuries by people or animals increased 3% due to an 11% increase in work-related suicides, which rose from 275 to 304 in 2018.

By occupation

Fatal falls, slips and trips decreased 11% to 791 after reaching a high of 887 in 2017. The decline was due to a 14% drop in falls to a lower level, down from 713 to 615, the lowest its been since 2013.

Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event at 2,080, or 40% of all work-related fatalities.

As in 2017, driver/sales workers and truck drivers accounted for the most fatalities of any broad occupation group at 966, up from the previous year’s 840.

Logging workers, fishers and related fishing workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, and roofers all had fatality rates 10 times greater than the all-worker rate of 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers.

Demographic information

The number of fatalities declined for workers age 65 years and older in 2018, but their fatal work injury rate remains more than double the all-worker rate.

Fatalities to non-Hispanic Black or African American workers increased 16% to 615, the highest it’s been since 1999. Their fatal injury rate also increased from 3.2 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2017 to 3.6 in 2018.

Hispanic or Latino workers experienced 961 fatalities, a 6% increase over 2017. Of those workers, 67% were born outside of the United States.

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