Workplace Fatalities Decrease Overall But Increase for Older Workers

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The diligence of employers providing a safer work place has paid off for some groups according to a March report released from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that contains 25 years of data from workplace injuries.

Occupational injuries resulting in a fatality have decreased by 17 percent from 1992 to 2016. During that period of time, the most fatalities occurred in 1994 with 6,632 deaths. The least amount of deaths occurred in 2009 as there were only 4,551 deaths that year.

Bringing the statistics down even further, in 2016 there were 14 deaths per day, which means a worker died every 102 minutes.

While the data showed an overall decrease in deaths among all workers, the death rate for workers aged 55 and older increased by 50 percent from 1992 to 2016. According to the report, older workers made up 20 percent of the total injuries in 1992 and 36 percent of the total in 2016. The report states, “Older workers face a greater risk of being killed at work than workers as a whole.”

The overall fatal injury rate for older workers was 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2016. For workers over the age of 65, the rate increased to 9.6. Workers aged 55 to 64 had the highest rate of any other age group, except for ages 16 to 19.

Falls were showed to be the greatest risk for older workers as opposed to equipment injuries, however the opposite was true for the 16 to 19 age group. The report attributed the difference to differences in work duties and the types of injuries that occurred.

According to the report, being self-employed carries a high risk of work-related fatalities as well. The overall fatal injury rate for all ages was 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2016. Interestingly enough, the same injury rate for self-employed workers was 13.1, while the rate for wage and salaried workers was only 3.0. It would appear that self-employed workers are four times as likely to die from an injury than a traditional employee.

Transportation accidents were the leading cause of worker deaths from 2011 to 2016. Vehicle collisions were the most common type of accident.

Violent events came in second, most of which were homicides involving shootings.

Falls, slips and tripping came in as the third cause of death among workers.

You download the full report on the BLS Website.

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