Too Much Bad News in 2015 CFOI Data

Dedication, communication, training, effective management and disciplinary action when necessary, and adherence to best practices and current standards are part of the answer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released key findings from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries on Dec. 16, 2016, and almost all of its news was bad. There were 4,836 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2015, up from 4,821 the year before and the most since 5,214 deaths in 2008. Other key findings of the 2015 CFOI:

  • The number of Latino workers dying on the job in 2015—903—was the most in any year since 937 fatalities in 2007.
  • Road fatalities were up 9 percent from 2014 totals and represented more than 25 percent of the fatal occupational injuries in 2015.
  • Workplace suicides decreased 18 percent in 2015, but homicides were up 2 percent from 2014.
  • There were 745 fatalities among drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailer trucks, the most of any occupation.
  • The 937 fatal work injuries in the private construction industry in 2015 was the highest total since 975 cases in 2008.
  • Fatal injuries in the private oil and gas extraction industries were down 38 percent in 2015 from the total in 2014.

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, soon to be out of that job, stated the obvious about the numbers when they came out. He said they "underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires," adding, "The fact is, we know how to prevent these deaths."

Yes, we do. Dedication, communication, training, effective management and disciplinary action when necessary, and adherence to best practices and current standards are part of the answer. So are an effective Occupational Safety and Health Administration and its state plan partners, which the new administration should not neglect.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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