It can take anywhere from a couple months to half a year for workplace accidents and injuries statistics to work their way into the public sphere. In this case, workers’ compensation practitioners and businesses are just seeing the final numbers for 2017 and estimates for 2018 here in December. What do these new numbers tell us about workplace accidents in recent years?
Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of fatal workplace accidents dropped from 2016 to 2017 and the approximate numbers for 2018 show another slight decrease this past year. Specifically, in 2017, the fatal injury rate was 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in the United States. This number is down from 3.6 fatalities reported in 2016.
The data on fatal workplace accidents also tells us a lot more about injuries, illnesses, and infamously dangerous industries in the United States in the most recent years.
What Does the Drop in Workplace Fatalities Indicate?
The total number of workplace fatalities in 2017 is 5,147. This number represents all fatalities from all causes and across every industry in the United States for last year. The total fatalities account for slip and fall, electrocution, work-related car accidents, and even heart attacks occurring in the workplace. There were only 43 fewer fatal accidents in 2017 than in 2016.
While it is encouraging to see a slight drop in the number of workplace fatalities, this information doesn’t indicate much to a worker’s compensation or safety lawyer following trends in fatal accidents and injuries. There weren’t significant drops in any one industry and no interesting changes in where these industries occurred or how. However, the slight decrease in workplace fatalities does show there is room for improvement.
Workplace fatalities for 2017 might be lower than in 2016, but the number is still distant from the low in 2009. There were only 4,551 workplace fatalities in 2009, a record low for the past 20 years. Reaching the same statistics for 2009 would require an additional investment in workplace safety and health by individual companies and the government. There would need to be a further commitment to best practices and safety instructions provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
How Do Workplace Fatalities Occur Today?
According to the statistics from 2016 and 2017, the majority of workplace fatalities are occurring from a single source – transportation incidents. In all, there were 2,077 workplace fatalities from motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents, forklift incidents, and other transportation-related incidents. Limiting or minimizing transportation incidents could substantially impact the overall number of workplace fatalities.
As well, the high number of workplace fatalities from transportation incidents is a relatively new phenomenon. In the past, the major issues in workplace safety centered around risks from animals, hand tools, ladders, and unsafe stairs. Other major problems existed with machinery and fatigue from long working hours. In times when there were instrumental changes to efficiency, many workplace fatalities could also be attributed to production methods and the “type” of work employees were required to perform.
The numbers from 2017 also show that incidents involving machinery and equipment can still be a problem in certain industries. Contact with objects and equipment accounted for 695 workplace fatalities in 2017. What types of incidents caused more fatalities than equipment and machinery? Slips, trips, and falls led to 887 workplace fatalities in 2017 and 807 fatalities were attributed to violence or incident with other employees.
Where Do Workplace Injuries Occur?
We previously looked at those industries considered the most dangerous in the United States and New Jersey. Many of those industries, including logging, aircraft pilots and passenger airline workers, roofers, truck drivers, and delivery drivers, and agricultural managers are dangerous because of the high number of fatalities occurring in these professions. Noticeably, truck drivers, delivery drivers, and other transportation professionals are on the list of dangerous jobs for the significant number of road accidents that occur each year.
Do you need advice on the serious injury or workplace fatality involving a loved one? At the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone, our legal team handles worker’s compensation claims and workplace fatality cases in New Jersey. To learn more about our legal representation and how we can help your family, call us at (856) 234-4023.