Death by the Numbers
By Joan E. Collier
Most people liken the reading of government reports to a dental appointment. Yes, we know we should do it, we know it’s good for us, but can we get it over with fast and move on to something fun?
A new offering from the Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics is a prime example of the “you really should read this” category. Dryly—albeit precisely—entitled the “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2014,” the report provides information and rows of data on the fatal dangers facing America’s workers.
Let me help you out here.
I read through the reports and cherry-picked some good news and bad news.
A preliminary total of 4,679 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2014, an increase of 2 percent over the revised count of 4,585 fatal work injuries in 2013. In total, 24 states reported higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2014 than in 2013, while 22 states and the District of Columbia reported lower numbers. Four states reported the same number as in 2013.
These states showed reductions of at least 10 percent in 2014 compared to 2013:
- Alabama, 70 versus 78
- Arizona, 86 versus 96
- California, 334 versus 396
- D.C., 11 versus 25
- Missouri, 106 versus 118
- Minnesota, 62 versus 69
- New Jersey, 85 versus 102
- North Dakota, 38 versus 56
- South Carolina, 62 versus 75
- Virginia, 116 versus 128
- West Virginia, 38 versus 61
Kudos to those states. But take a look at these numbers, where fatalities jumped double digits percentage-wise in 2014 from 2013:
- Colorado, 83, versus 65
- Georgia, 148 versus 117
- Hawaii, 31 versus 11
- Iowa, 90 versus 72
- Kansas, 69 versus 55
- Nebraska, 54 versus 39
- New York, 203 versus 178
- North Carolina, 128 verses 109
- Ohio, 184 versus 129
- South Dakota, 28 versus 20
- Tennessee, 124 versus 95
- Utah, 54 versus 37
- Washington, 86 versus 56
- Wyoming, 37 versus 26
Some other noteworthy gleanings from the various charts:
- Of the 4,697 deaths, 4,320 were men; 359 women.
- 4,251 of the deaths occurred in private industry, an increase of 4 percent.
- There were nine homicides.
- Eight people under the age of 16 died.
- 1,047 self-employed workers died, and increase of 10 percent.
- Fatal falls, slips, and trips were up 10 percent in 2014 from the previous year.
- At 1,891 events, transportation incidents were by far the leading cause (40 percent).
- Fatal work injuries involving workers 55 years of age and over rose 9 percent to 1,621 in 2014 up from 1,490 in 2013. The preliminary 2014 count for workers 55 and over is the highest total ever reported.
- The number of fatal work injuries among protective service occupations decreased 15 percent in 2014 to 211 fatalities, a series low.
- Fatal occupational injuries among government workers fell 12 percent to a series low of 428.
There. All done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
(Read more Work Comp Nation blogs here.)
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