NSC Notes an Increase in Yearly Workplace Fatalities

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the highest total worker fatalities since 2008, with leading causes of deaths being motor vehicle accidents, falls, and drug overdoses.

The National Safety Council has some disheartening news about average fatalities for the last year. There is a reported 2 percent rise in total worker deaths—5,250 in 2018 compared to 5,147 in 2017—according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rate of death has not changed since 2017, and this is the highest total worker fatality number reported since 2008. Unintentional workplace deaths also increased, totaling 4,493 in 2018, up from 4,414 the year prior.

Unintentional overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol is on the rise, too. Rates increased for the sixth consecutive year, claiming 305 lives in 2018 compared with 272 the previous year. However, work-related motor vehicle death declined, totaling 1,276 in 2018 and 1,299 in 2017. Additionally, falls to a lower level decreased to 615 deaths in 2018, down from 713 the previous year.

The leading cause of preventable deaths on the job is motor vehicle crashes is falls. Drug and alcohol overdoses are a growing workplace threat as cases continue to rise, and drug overdoses are the leading cause of preventable death outside of the workplace.

The NSC concludes that there is still not enough being done to protect workers. Workplace fatalities should remind employers and employees alike that safety is of upmost importance. Leaders need to set the tone from the top and engage all workers in safety, identify hazards and measure safety performance using leading indicators to constantly improve.

According to NSC, “employers need to take a systematic approach to safety that includes having policies, training and risk assessment techniques in place to address major causes of fatalities and injuries.”

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