Latest workplace fatalities report: Good news for workforce, bad for construction
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said preliminary information shows there were 4,383 fatal work injuries recorded in 2012 compared to 4,693 in 2011. That equates to a rate of fatal workplace injuries of 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2012 compared to 3.5 in 2011.
"I am greatly encouraged by the reduction in workplace fatalities, even in a growing economy," said Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez. "It is a testament to the hard work of employers, unions, health and safety professionals, and the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration."
However, the annual report shows an increase in fatalities in construction of 5 percent even though total hours worked increased just 1 percent in 2012. The increase follows five consecutive years of declines.
The oil and gas extraction industries also saw an increase in fatal work injuries from 112 in 2011 to 138 in 2012. The 14 percent increase represents a series high, according to the report.
"We can and must do better," Perez said. "Job gains in oil and gas and construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable."
The secretary pointed to various initiatives undertaken by OSHA to prevent falls in construction and protect workers in oil and gas exploration and production. Included is an upcoming voluntary stand-down in November sponsored by oil and gas industry employers.
The private sector reported 3,945 fatal work injuries in 2012, down 6 percent to a new series low. Both goods-producing industries and service-providing industries showed declines.
Additional findings from the BLS report include:
- Fatal work injuries declined among non-Hispanic white workers by 10 percent and Hispanic or Latino workers by 5 percent.
- Fatal work injuries were higher among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers and non-Hispanic Asian workers.
- Fatalities among workers younger than 16 years of age nearly doubled, rising from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012 -- the highest total since 2005. Most of those were in the agricultural industry.
- Violence accounted for roughly 17 percent of work-related fatalities.
- Work-related suicides declined 10 percent.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia reported higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2012 while 32 states reported lower numbers. Two states reported the same number as in 2011.
"Employers must take job hazards seriously and live up to their legal and moral obligation to send their workers home safe every single day," Perez said. "The Labor Department is committed to preventing these needless deaths, and we will continue to engage with employers to make sure that these fatality numbers go down further."
By Nancy Grover
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 7, 2013
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