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Transportation, equipment contact lead fatal work injury categories

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 5,250 fatal work injuries in 2018, a 2 percent increase from the prior year’s 5,147 figure, but agency officials note that the fatal work injury rate last year remained unchanged at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. Data are from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 2018, released late last month, and indicate mostly year-over-year figures:

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  • Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event at 2,080, accounting for 40 percent of all work-related fatalities.
  • Incidents involving contact with objects and equipment increased 13 percent, from 695 to 786, driven by a 39 percent increase in workers caught in running equipment or machinery and a 17 percent increase in workers struck by falling objects or equipment.
  • Fatal falls, slips, and trips decreased 11 percent to 791, after reaching a series high of 887 in 2017. The decline was due to a 14 percent drop in falls to a lower level, from 713 to 615, the lowest total since 2013.
  • Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work rose 12 percent from 272 to 305—marking a sixth consecutive annual increase.
  • Driver/sales workers and truck drivers had the most fatalities of any broad occupation group at 966. Among all detailed occupations, heavy-duty and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the most fatalities at 831.
  • Occupations with the most fatal work injuries to independent workers in 2018 were heavy-duty and tractor trailer-truck drivers (96), followed by first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (61), and construction laborers (48).
  • Though the number of fatalities declined for workers age 65 years and over in 2018, their fatal work-injury rate is still more than double the all-worker rate.

Part of the BLS Occupational Safety and Health Statistics program, the CFOI is a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. during the calendar year. The CFOI uses a variety of state, federal, and independent data sources to identify, verify, and describe fatal work injuries. This ensures counts are as complete and accurate as possible. For the 2018 data, over 24,800 unique source documents were reviewed as part of the data collection process. The CFOI follows the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ November 2019 release of findings from the 2018 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.