Workplace fatalities up 2% in 2019, most since 2007

There were 5,333 fatal workplace injuries recorded in the United States in 2019, a 2% increase from the 5,250 in 2018 and the largest figure since 2007, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday.

Demographics data painted a different picture: fatalities among workers age 55 and over increased 8% from 1,863 in 2018 to 2,005 in 2019 and accounted for 38% of all workplace fatalities and is the largest number ever recorded for this age group. Hispanic or Latino worker fatalities were up 13% to 1,088 in 2019 — highest since 1992 — and made up 20% of fatalities reported in 2019.

There were 307 workplace deaths due to suicides and 313 due to unintentional overdoses, a figure that has increased steadily over the past seven years. Fatalities in the private construction industry increased 5 % to 1,061 — the largest total for that classification since 2007.

Those working as drivers or sales workers and truck drivers also saw the highest figure reported since 2003: 1,005 fatalities in 2019 and accounting for nearly 20% of all fatalities. Overall, events involving transportation incidents continued to account for the largest share of fatalities with transportation incidents increasing 2% in 2019 to 2,122 cases, the most cases since 2011, according to the data.

Other key figures provided include:

  • Falls, slips, and trips increased 11% in 2019 to 880.
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments led to the deaths of 642 workers in 2019, the highest figure since 2011.
  • Fatalities due to fires and explosions decreased 14% to 99 in 2019.
  • Grounds maintenance workers had 229 fatalities in 2019 – the largest number since 2003.
  • Fatal occupational injuries among law enforcement workers fell 24% between 2018 and 2019, from 127 to 97.
  • Construction and extraction occupations increased by 6% in 2019 to 1,066 — the highest figure since 2007.
  • Fishing and hunting workers had a fatal injury rate of 145 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time employees in 2019.
  • Resident military fatalities decreased by 21% to 65 in 2019.

Overall, one worker died every 99 minutes from a work-related injury in 2019, with the fatal work injury rate at 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, which was the rate reported in 2018, according to the data.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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