According to the recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) report, there were 43 fewer workplace fatalities in the United States during 2017 than in the previous year. The fatal injury rate also decreased from 3.6 percent in 2016 to 3.5 percent in 2017.
A total of 5,147 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2017, down slightly from the 5,190 fatal injuries reported in 2016. In addition to the decline in overall fatalities, crane-related workplace fatalities and fatal occupational injuries in the private manufacturing industry and wholesale trade industries reached their lowest points since the CFOI started in 2003.
However, fatal falls were at their highest level in the 26-year history of the CFOI, accounting for 887 worker deaths. Transportation incidents remained the most frequent fatal event in 2017 with 2,077 occupational fatalities. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals decreased 7 percent in 2017, with homicides and suicides decreasing by 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Unintentional overdoses due to the nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased 25 percent from 217 in 2016 to 272 in 2017. This was the fifth consecutive year in which overdose deaths rose by at least 25 percent.
Contact with objects and equipment incidents were down 9 percent, with caught in running equipment or machinery deaths down 26 percent. Fatal occupational injuries involving confined spaces rose 15 percent to 166 in 2017 from 144 in 2016.
The transportation and material-moving occupational group as well as the construction and extraction occupational group accounted for 47 percent of worker deaths in 2017. Within the occupational subgroup driver/sales workers and truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the largest number of fatal occupational injuries with 840. This represented the highest number for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers since the occupational series began in 2003.
Fishers and related fishing workers and logging workers had the highest published rates of fatal injury in 2017. Police and sheriff's patrol officers incurred 95 fatal occupational injuries in 2017, fewer than the 108 fatalities in 2016.
Grounds maintenance workers, including first-line supervisors, incurred 244 fatalities in 2017. This was a small decrease from the 2016 figure (247) but was still the second-highest total since 2003. A total of 36 deaths were due to falls from trees, and another 35 were due to being struck by a falling tree or branch.
There were 258 fatalities among farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers in 2017. Approximately 63 percent of these farmers were age 65 and older, with 48 being age 80 or older. Of the 258 deaths, 103 involved a farm tractor.
Other key findings of the report included that 15 percent of the fatally injured workers in 2017 were age 65 or older – a series high. In 1992, the first year CFOI published national data, that figure was 8 percent. These workers also had a higher fatality rate than other age groups in 2017.
Fatalities incurred by non-Hispanic Black or African American workers and non-Hispanic Asian workers each decreased 10 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Workplace fatalities in the private mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry increased 26 percent to 112 in 2017 from a series low of 89 in 2016. More than 70 percent of these fatalities were incurred by workers in the oil and gas extraction industries.
A total of 27 states had fewer fatal workplace injuries in 2017 than in 2016, while 21 states and the District of Columbia had more. California and Maine had the same number as 2016. A total of 192 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) had five or more fatal work injuries in 2017.
"While today's report shows a decline in the number of workplace fatalities, the loss of even one worker is too many," said Loren Sweatt, acting assistant secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). "Through comprehensive enforcement and compliance assistance that includes educating job creators about their responsibilities under the law and providing robust education opportunities to workers, OSHA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the American workforce."
For more information, visit www.bls.gov.