Workplace deaths up slightly; fatality rate down a little

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 4,836 workplace deaths were recorded in the U.S. in 2015, a slight increase from 4,821 in 2014. 

The overall rate of fatal work injuries in 2015 was 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, a slight drop from 3.43 in 2014.

Some key findings in the 2015 report:

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  • The number of workplace deaths in 2015 was the highest since 5,214 in 2008
  • Hispanic/Latino workers suffered 903 fatal injuries in 2015, the most since 937 in 2007
  • Roadway incident fatalities were up 9% from 2014, accounting for more than one-quarter of the fatal occupational injuries in 2015
  • Homicides were up 2% from 2014
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers recorded 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation
  • The 937 fatalities in private construction in 2015 represented the highest total since 975 cases in 2008, and
  • Seventeen percent of workers who died were contracted by and performing work for another business or government entity in 2015 rather than their direct employer at the time of the incident.

The number of fatal work injuries involving transportation increased in 2015. Transportation incidents account for 42% of the deaths. Almost half of these fatalities involved a semi, tractor-trailer or tanker truck. Of the 253 non-roadway transportation fatalities in 2015, the most frequent vehicle involved was a farm tractor. Fatal injuries involving pedestrians were lower in 2015, as were rail and water vehicle incidents.

The breakdown of other major events that caused workplace deaths in 2015:

  • falls, slips and trips: 17%
  • contact with objects and equipment: 15%
  • violence and other injuries by people or animals: 15%
  • exposure to harmful substances or environments: 9%, and
  • fires and explosions: 2%.

Workplace deaths from violence and other injuries by people or animals were down 8%. Shootings increased 15%, the first increase since 2012. Assailants in workplace homicides differed depending on the gender of the victim. About 43% of female victims were fatally assaulted by a relative or domestic partner. For males, that number was only 2%.

Falls to a lower level accounted for 81% of all fatal falls. More than 40% of fatal falls occurred from 15 feet or lower.

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