As the economy picked up last year so did the number of fatal work injuries with construction recording the highest number of deaths of all industries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 2014. There where 4,659 fatal work injuries in 2014. This is the highest number of fatalities since 2011.
This high number of deaths on work sites is mostly explained by a revitalized economy and a decline in the unemployment rate in 2014. The rate of workers fatalities stayed the same as the previous year with 3.3 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Over the long term, the rate of worker fatalities has been slowly decreasing over the years indicating safer work conditions globally.
40% of the fatalities were caused by a transportation accident. Among transportation related fatalities, more than half of them where accidents on roadways. Accidents involving pedestrian workers being struck by vehicles represented the second largest category of fatal occupational injuries caused by transportation accidents.
Falls to lower level were the second most important cause of work fatalities with 647 workers dying in a fall in 2014. The most deadly falls were falls from 6 to 10 feet and falls from above 30 feet.
Compared to the previous year, there was a significant increase in fatal falls, trips and slips as well as more deaths related to chemical exposure. Fatal transportation accidents where also on the rise. There was a significant decrease of fatalities related to violence and injuries by other persons and animals as well as a smaller decline in fatalities related to contact with objects and equipment or caused by fires and explosions.
Around 17% of the workers who died on the job are Latinos. Last year, there were 789 compared to 817 in 2013. The majority of them were Latinos born out of the country. Mexican have the highest number of work fatal injuries among all foreign workers born out of the country. It is our opinion that this is a result of many of them being out of status and forced to work under unsafe conditions with little or no training.
Workers above 45 years old have a higher risk of death in a work accident especially those above 65 years old. While the average work fatality rate was 3.3 deaths for 100,000 full time workers in 2014, the same rate was 10.2 for workers above 65.
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting is the most dangerous industrial sector to work in with a fatal work injury rate of 24.9 deaths for 100,000 full-time workers. 568 workers died last year in this industry sector. The industry sector with the most deaths was the construction industry with 874 hard hats dying on construction sites last year.
Texas had the most occupational fatal injuries, followed by California, Florida and New York.