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BLS, OSHA Report: Fatal Work Injuries Continue to Increase

By Christine Torres

Transportation saw more fatal incidences than any other event in 2016, according to the latest BLS report.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its 2016 stats on workplace injuries in nearly every industry. According to the BLS Census of 2016 Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016, a 7% increase from 2015. The fatal injury rate also saw a slight increase to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2016 from 3.4 in 2015.

Incident Numbers

More workers lost their lives in powered transportation incidents than any other event in 2016, accounting for about 40% fatal injuries. Workplace violence injuries increased by 23%, making it the second most common cause of workplace fatality. Overdoses on the job increased by 32%, according to the report, and fatalities overall have increased by at least 25% annually since 2012. 

  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments rose 22% to 518.
  • Fatalities from falls, slips, or trips has seen an increase of 6% to 849 in 2016 and 25% overall since 2011.
  • Falls increased for carpenters, roofers, tree trim workers, and heavy-load and tractor-trailer truck drivers by more than 25% in 2016.

“Today’s occupational fatality data show a tragic trend with the third consecutive increase in worker fatalities in 2016 – the highest since 2008. America’s workers deserve better,” said Loren Sweatt, deputy assistant secretary for OSHA. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways of working with employers and employees to improve workplace safety and health. OSHA will work to address these trends through enforcement, compliance assistance, education and training, and outreach.”

Since the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must provide safe and healthful workplaces for employees. OSHA is designed to help ensure the working conditions for Americans have set standards, and that enforcement helps in providing training, education, and assistance.

Occupation Stats

Transportation and material moving occupation fatalities in 2016 increased by 7% to 1,388, the highest count since 2007, which accounted for more than one-quarter of all work-related fatalities. The 2016 BLS report also shows that occupations such as food preparation and serving related had a 64% increase in the number of fatal work injuries; installation, maintenance, and repair occupations had an increase of 20%; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance saw an increase of 14%; and sales and related occupations had an 11% increase.

To help prevent slips, trips, and falls, use products such as non-slip floor tape.

Though the report offers a dismal glimpse at current safety trends, it’s not all bad news. In 2016, workplace fatalities decreased in some industries including healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (decreased by 19%), military occupations (down by 15%), and production occupations (down by 14%). Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction as a whole, and manufacturing experienced big decreases in workplace fatalities in 2016, by 26% and 10%, respectively. Read the BLS census report for the full list of occupational injury statistics.

Simple Solutions Can Help Save Lives

Use effective visual communication and resources to improve the BLS numbers for fatal work injuries from slips, falls, or trips, and to assist in eliminating careless exposure to harmful substances. Protect workers, organize workflow, and direct traffic using Graphic Products’ PathFinder floor marking and wayfinding solutions. Clearly mark hazards and improve safety using high-quality labeling supplies compatible with DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers.

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