The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary for 2012, and the news is mixed for workers. While the overall number of fatal workplace injuries declined in 2012 as compared with 2011, certain demographic groups experienced more fatalities than in the past. Further, some persistent causes of workplace injury continue to result in a disproportionate number of worker deaths.
Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers know that employees continue to face many risks on the job, even with the declining number of workplace deaths. Workers need to understand what the greatest risks are, and both workers and employers need to do everything they can to try to continue to reduce the number of people who die on the job.
Work Injuries Decline, But Not For Certain Workers
In 2012, there were a total of 4,383 fatal workplace injuries recorded in the United States. This is the second lowest preliminary estimate of workplace deaths since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries was first recorded in 1992. This is great news for workers, especially as the rate of fatal workplace injury among full-time equivalent workers declined from 3.5 per 100,000 in 2011 to 3.2 per 100,000 workers in 2012.
Yet, while the total number of fatalities declined, certain groups of workers experienced an increase in the number of deaths. For example:
- Fatal workplace injuries nearly doubled among workers under the age of 16. In 2011, just ten workers in this age group died. In 2012, 19 young people were killed. This is the highest number of young workers killed on the job since 2005 and the dramatic increase occurred even as the number of fatal work injuries declined amongst people in other age groups.
- Fatal work injuries in oil and gas extraction industries increased 23 percent in 2012. This is a record high. The number of fatalities in the private mining sector also increased this year.
- Workplace deaths among non-Hispanic Asian workers increased 13 percent, although overall Asian workers still have a lower death rate than the rate among all demographic groups.
It is not clear what caused the dramatic increase in the number of young workers who were killed, although the data does show that 14 of the youth workers who died were employed in the agricultural industry.
How Can Workers Protect Themselves?
It’s good that work injuries declined, but there are still thousands of people dying each year. Understanding the common causes of workplace deaths is one of the best ways to prevent fatalities or reduce the number of people killed on the job, as workers and employers can then take precautions to minimize the risks.
The BLS data shows that one of the biggest risk factors is transportation accidents, which accounted for more than two of every five fatal work injuries in 2012. The majority–about 58 percent– were roadway incidents.
Employers, therefore, should strongly consider imposing stricter policies related to on-the-job driving while workers need to remember to exercise reasonable caution behind the wheel when driving for work.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim– 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
New England Work Injuries and the Risk of NOISE in the Workplace, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, August 13, 2013