5,250 fatal work-related injuries were recorded in the United States during 2018, representing a 2% rise over the previous figure of 5,147 fatal injuries documented in 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said in its annual census of fatal occupational injuries released Tuesday. While the actual number of deaths rose slightly, the fatal work injury rate was unchanged from year-to-year at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.
Fatalities involving contact with objects and equipment witnessed a 13% increase last year, from 695 in 2017 to 786. Incidents where workers became caught in operational equipment increased by a staggering 39%.
40% of all work-related deaths were linked to transportation incidents, according to the BLS data. Paired with that, driver/sales workers and truck drivers had the most workplace fatality incidents compared to other broad occupation groups.
The number of fatal injuries increased in manufacturing during the period from 303 in 2017 to 343 in 2018. However, the number of deaths in food manufacturing actually declined with 51 fatalities recorded in 2017 to 41 last year.
“OSHA will continue to use BLS for enforcement targeting within its jurisdiction to help prevent tragedies,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt said in a response to the BLS figures posted to workplace safety regulator’s website. “Inspections for OSHA were up, and we will work with state plans so employers and workers can find compliance assistance tools in many forms or call the agency to report unsafe working conditions. Any fatality is too many.”
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