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BLS: Fatal Workplace Accidents Reach Six-year High in 2015


construction worker in protective gear staring toward scaffolding at construction site

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the United States saw an increase in fatal occupational injuries in 2015 from the previous year, although the rate of fatal work injuries has fallen. Here is additional information regarding on the job accidents in 2015.

Key Findings of the BLS Census

A total of 4,836 people sustained fatal workplace injuries in 2015. This number was the highest total since 2008, when 5,214 people died on the job. However, the overall rate of fatal work injury lowered from 2014 – 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent in 2015 compared to 3.43 in 2014. The total number of fatalities increased by 15 from 2014 to 2015

  • The number of Hispanic or Latino workers that died from a workplace injury also increased in 2015. A total of 903 Hispanic or Latino workers died in 2015 – the most since there were 937 fatalities in 2007.
  • Roadway incident fatalities accounted for over one-quarter (26 percent) of fatal occupational injuries in 2015, an increase of nine percent from 2014.
  • 937 workers in the private construction industry suffered fatal work injuries in 2015. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers recorded 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation.
  • While workers age 45 and older accounted for 58 percent of workplace deaths in 2015, workers in this age range only accounted for 45 percent of total hours worked. Fatal injury rates were generally lower among young workers (age 25-34) and higher among older workers (age 65+).

In the state of Texas, fatal work injuries decreased from 531 to 527 in 2015, although the fatal injury rate (4.5 per 100,000 FTE) stayed the same. Texas has the highest number of fatal work injury incidents in the country.

Fatal Occupational Injury by Event

  • Transportation incidents – 2,054 fatalities (42% of total fatal occupational injuries)
  • Falls, slips, and trips – 800 (16.5%)
  • Contact with objects and equipment – 722 (15%)
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals – 703 (14.5%)
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments – 424 (8.8%)
  • Fires and explosions – 121 (2.5%)
Construction and Extraction Occupational Fatalities

Fatal injuries in the construction and extraction industries rose two percent in 2015, with 924 workers fatally injured on the job. This is the highest number since 2008. Fatal falls accounted for nearly 40 percent of fatal work injuries in the private construction industry in 2015. Workers were fatally struck by an object or equipment 519 times in 2015, the most common object being a plant, tree, or vegetation (110).

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