Bureau of Labor Statistics Fatality Data
Fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. are counted by The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), a part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Safety and Health Statistics. The program administered by the CFOI uses diverse state, federal, and independent data sources to identify, verify, and describe fatal work injuries. In 2016 BLS reported a seven percent increase of fatal work injuries over 2015 (4,836 fatal work injuries in 2015 to 5,190 fatal work injuries in 2016). The last time a fatality rate recorded by the CFOI was greater than 5,000 was in 2008 (5,214 fatal work injuries).
Transportation fatalities remain the highest fatal event in 2016 with an overall count of 40% (2,083). Violence follows with an increase of 23% from 2015. Falls, trips, and slips for roofers, carpenters, tree trimers and pruners, and heavy and tractor-trailers truck drivers, and contact with objects and equipment have about equal contributors. Exposures to harmful substances or environments have grown by 22%, and fire and explosions have dropped by 27%. Drugs and alcohol related fatalities while on the job increased by 32 %. Overdose fatalities increased by at least 25 % annually since 2012. Workplace suicides increased from 62 to 291 in 2016 and workplace homicides increased by 83 to 500 cases in 2016. This is the most suicides CFOI has reported since 1992.
Fatalities for young worker’s (<25 years old) has decreased between 2015 (403 = 8% of all work related fatalities) to 2016 (383 = 7% of all work related fatalities) despite the fact that overall, fatalities increased between 2015 and 2016. The fatal injuries for workers 55 years and over was 1,848 making it the highest since 1992 when CFOI began reporting national data. Workers age 55 years and over have a higher fatality rate than other age groups.
Young workers (<25 years old) seem to have high rates of injuries. Often times hazards present in the workplace such as heavy machinery or sharp objects lead to the injuries. A lack of safety training or limited work experience can add to the high injury rates. Often young workers hesitate to ask questions and fail to recognize workplace dangers.
The highest percentage increase (40%) among any race or ethnic origin were Asian workers with 160 fatal injuries up from 114 in 2015. African-American workers had an increase of 19%, with 587 fatalities compared to 495 in 2015. In 2016, Hispanic or Latino workers had a three percent decrease in fatalities with 879 fatalities down from 903 in 2015. Foreign born workers made up about 20% of the total fatalities with 37% from Mexico, followed by 19% from Asian countries. Both men and women fatality rates increased from 2015.
The 2017 data for the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries is expected to be released December 2018.