The number of U.S. workplace deaths rose 2% in 2019 to 5,333 from 5,250 fatal workplace injuries in 2018, according to the most recent Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The fatal work injury rate was 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the same rate reported in 2018.
It was the highest number of fatalities reported since 2007. Transportation incidents continued to account for the largest share of fatalities; transportation incidents increased 2% in 2019 to 2,122 cases. Falls, slips, and trips increased 11% in 2019 to 880 cases.
Other key findings in the BLS report included:
— The 5,333 fatal occupational injuries in 2019 represents the largest annual number since 2007.
— A worker died every 99 minutes from a work-related injury in 2019.
— Fatalities among workers age 55 and over increased 8 percent from 1,863 in 2018 to 2,005 in 2019, which is the largest number ever recorded for this age group.
— Hispanic or Latino worker fatalities were up 13 percent to 1,088 in 2019–a series high since 1992.
— Workplace deaths due to suicides (307) and unintentional overdoses (313) increased slightly in 2019.
— Fatalities in the private construction industry increased 5 percent to 1,06- the largest total since 2007.
— Driver/sales workers and truck drivers incurred 1,005 fatal occupational injuries, the highest since this series began in 2003.
Both the NSC and American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) responded to the CFOI report, calling for employers to take consistent, systemic action to curtail the number of workplace deaths.
“Fatalities should never be the cost of doing business,” NSC said in a statement. ASSP urged employers to adopt voluntary national consensus standards and implement safety and health management systems in response to numbers of workplace fatalities reported in 2019.
“With many safety advancements being readily available to employers nationwide, it’s troubling that we’re continuing to see higher numbers of worker fatalities,” said ASSP President Deborah Roy said in a statement.
ASSP said that employer efforts to improve workplace safety should involve safety and health management systems like the one specified in the group’s Z10.0-2019 standard.