Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. In December, the report for 2016 was released and showed an increase in fatal incidents on the national level and here in New York. The national numbers are continuing an upward trend that began in 2014, giving 2016 the highest number of total occupational fatalities since 2008. Especially notable, however, are some of the causes of those fatalities.
Workplace accidents most likely to cause death
Workplace deaths can happen unexpectedly, however, most of them are preventable. According to a 2015-2016 BLS report, transportation incidents, such as the one that recently happened to a Long Island Rail Road worker, were the primary cause of death to workers, resulting in a total of 2083 national fatalities in 2016. This represents a 1.4 percent increase from 2015.
Other common causes of work-related deaths included:
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animals resulted in a total of 866 work-related deaths in 2016. This is a 23 percent increase from 2015.
- Falls, slips and trips resulted in a total of 849 work-related deaths, a 6.1 percent increase from 2015.
- Contact with objects and equipment resulted in 761 work-related deaths, a 5.4 percent increase from 2015.
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments resulted in 518 work-related deaths, a 22 percent increase from 2015.
- Fires and explosions resulted in 88 work-related deaths, a 37.5 percent decrease from 2015.
City vs State
The report also breaks down the occupations which saw the largest number of fatalities, as well as how these injuries were spread across demographic categories such as gender, age, and race. Of particular interest to us for a broad overview, however, is the information on New York State and New York City. Table 5, at the end of the report, shows a breakdown of how the injuries were spread across the nation, with New York State shown including NYC, but NYC also given standalone statistics.
While the city actually had a decrease of 18 fatal injuries, only picking up 56 in 2016, the state increased from 236 to 272. BLS calculated a rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, with the state clocking in at 3.1 and the city at 1.5. The 2015 rates were 2.7 and 2.0, respectively.
We are very happy to see New York City showing improvement and encourage the state to emulate it. However, every one of those fatal injuries represents not just a life lost, but a future cut short and a family hurt. We need to strive for no further workplace fatalities. As long as employees are dying at work, they and their families deserve justice.
If you have lost a loved one to a workplace injury, contact us today to find out how we can help.