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US Workplace Fatalities Steadily Declining, Says BLS

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In 2017, the number of work-related fatalities in the United States dropped to its lowest level in more than two decades, according to a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS frequently analyzes rates of work-related injury and fatality. On Dec. 18, 2018, the government-run organization released a new report on fatalities in the workplace. Titled "Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary," it provides a statistical analysis of work-related fatalities that occurred during 2017.

About the BLS's Findings

So, what did the BLS discover? In the report, the BLS says that 5,147 work-related fatalities were reported in 2017. To put that number into perspective, 5,190 workers were killed on the job in 2016. Being that it's still December, it's unknown how many work-related fatalities will be reported in 2018. Many analysts, however, predict that it will be fewer than the 5,147 fatalities reported in 2017.

The BLS also said that 27 states experienced fewer nonfatal work-related injuries in 2017 than 2016. In 21 states, however, the number of nonfatal work-related injuries had increased.

"A total of 27 states had fewer fatal workplace injuries in 2017 than 2016, while 21 states and the District of Columbia had more; California and Maine had the same number as 2016. (See table 5.) A total of 192 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) had 5 or more fatal work injuries in 2017," wrote the BLS in its report.

Leading Causes of Work-Related Fatalities

Not surprisingly, falls topped the list as having one of the highest rate of work-related fatalities in 2017. According to the BLS, 887 workers lost their lives from falling in 2017. Overall, falls accounted for roughly 17% of all work-related fatalities reported in 2017. Unfortunately, this is the highest rate of fatal falls since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) began tracking them some 26 years ago.

With that said, transportation incidents were responsible for more work-related fatalities in 2017 than anything else, including falls. The BLS says that 2,077 workers lost their lives due to a transportation incident in 2017. Approximately 40% of all work-related fatalities in 2017 were attributed to transportation incidents. 

Another common cause of work-related fatality cited by the BLS was contact with equipment, which was responsible for 695 worker fatalities in 2017, compared to 761 in 2016.

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