On December 17, 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Report for 2018.

According to the report, there were 5,250 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2018, a 2% increase from 2017. The most frequent type of fatal event, accounting for 40% of all work-related fatalities, was transportation incidents. “Transportation incidents” included all aircraft, rail, roadway, and water vehicle incidents. Indeed, the occupation with the most fatalities was heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

Unfortunately, for the sixth consecutive year there was an increase in the number of unintentional overdoses at work, increasing by 12% in 2018. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicates this trend reflects the ongoing opioid crisis. The BLS report also demonstrated another pervasive public health problem: suicide at work increased by 11% in 2018.

Notably, fatalities caused by workers caught in running equipment or machinery increased by 39%, and fatalities caused by workers struck by falling objects or equipment increased by 17%.

On a positive note, the BLS report showed a 14% decline in work-related fatal falls from heights, resulting in the lowest total since 2013. OSHA and the construction industry have focused significant resources in fall prevention in recent years, which may have contributed to this decrease.

As we enter 2020, employers are reminded to review their safety and health programs and continue to be proactive on OSHA compliance and injury and illness prevention.