There were fewer workplace fatalities in 2017 than the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) in 2017 (CFOI) report released in December.
While the number is not huge, the fatal injury rate did drop from 3.6 percent in 2016 to 3.5 percent in 2017.
Crane-related workplace fatalities, and fatal occupational injuries in manufacturing and wholesale trade reached their lowest points since the CFOI started in 1992. The down side of the report showed the number of unintentional overdoses due to the nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased by 25 percent – the fifth consecutive year that overdose deaths rose by at least 25 percent.
Breaking down the numbers, the new report found there were 43 fewer workplace fatalities in 2017 than the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2017 (CFOI) report.
Fatal falls were at their highest level in the 26-year history of the CFOI accounting for 887 (17 percent) worker deaths. Transportation incidents remained the most frequent fatal event in 2017 with 2,077 (40 percent) occupational fatalities. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals decreased 7 percent in 2017 with homicides and suicides decreasing by 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
“While today’s report shows a decline in the number of workplace fatalities, the loss of even one worker is too many,” said Loren Sweatt, acting assistant secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “Through comprehensive enforcement and compliance assistance that includes educating job creators about their responsibilities under the law, and providing robust education opportunities to workers, OSHA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the American workforce.”
In addition to the decline in overall fatalities, crane-related workplace fatalities, and fatal occupational injuries in the private manufacturing industry and wholesale trade industries reached their lowest points since the CFOI started in 1992, Sweatt said.
Other key findings:
• 15 percent of the fatally-injured workers in 2017 were age 65 or over – a series high. In 1992, the first year CFOI published national data, that figure was 8 percent. These workers also had a higher fatality rate than other age groups in 2017.
• Fatalities incurred by non-Hispanic Black or African American workers and non-Hispanic Asian workers each decreased 10 percent from 2016 to 2017.
• Fatal occupational injuries in the private manufacturing industry and wholesale trade industry were the lowest since this series began in 2003.
• Workplace fatalities in the private mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry increased 26 percent to 112 in 2017 from a series low of 89 in 2016. (See table 4.) Over 70 percent of these fatalities were incurred by workers in the oil and gas extraction industries.
• 27 states had fewer fatal workplace injuries in 2017 than 2016, while 21 states and the District of Columbia had more; California and Maine had the same number as 2016. A total of 192 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) had 5 or more fatal work injuries in 2017.