Workers Were Less Likely to Die On the Job in 2015, BLS Says

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By Bruce Rolfsen

The likelihood of being killed on the job decreased slightly in 2015 even though the number of workplace deaths increased, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Dec. 16.

The fatality rate was 3.38 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from 3.43 in 2014, the BLS said, reporting results from its annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

Altogether, 4,836 workers lost their lives, 15 more deaths than in 2014.

While the overall number was higher, the rate decreased because more people were working in 2015 than in 2014.

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez responded to the report in a Dec. 16 statement.

“These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires,” Perez said.

“The fact is, we know how to prevent these deaths,” he added.

Peg Seminario, the AFL-CIO’s director of safety and health, told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 16 that while rate stayed about the same, for some groups of workers the problem grew worse.

“Deaths among Latino and immigrant workers—who have always faced greater risk—increased significantly, as did deaths in dangerous industries like construction and trucking,” Seminario said.

The fatality rate for Latino workers increased to 4.0 deaths for every 100,000 workers, up from 3.7 in 2014, the BLS report said. Rates for Asian, African-American and white workers declined or didn’t change.

Transportation accidents were the most common fatal incident, with 2,054 workers losing their lives, up from 1,984 in 2014. Most transportation incidents, such as highway and aircraft crashes, aren’t investigated by OSHA because they are outside the agency’s jurisdiction.

A risk that OSHA has focused on led to fewer fatalities. Death from falls, slips and trips declined—800 in 2015 down from 818 in 2014.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

A summary of the BLS data is available at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf

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