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Fatal workplace injury rate rises slightly in new BLS Census

A preliminary total of 4,679 fatal work injuries recorded in the U.S. during 2014 marks a 2 percent increase over prior year figures, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Preliminary 2014 figures show a fatal work injury rate at 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, matching the 2013 level.

Fatal work injuries in construction and extraction occupations increased 5 percent in 2014 to 885, the group’s highest total since 2008. Fatal injury rates for workers in construction and extraction were 11.8 and 12.2 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2014 and 2013, respectively. Fatal injuries among construction trades workers increased 3 percent in 2014 to 611, the highest count since 2009. Fatal work injuries to laborers—the occupation within construction trades workers with the highest number of fatalities—decreased last year by 14, to 206.

Transportation and material moving occupations accounted for 28 percent of fatal occupational injuries, the largest share of any occupation group. Fatal work injuries in the group rose 3 percent to 1,289 in 2014, the highest total since 2008. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers accounted for nearly two out of every three fatal injuries in the group (835 of 1,289) last year. Heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers had their highest fatality total (725) in six years.

With 2014 figures showing 13 worker fatalities per day, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez noted in a statement on the BLS findings: “These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires.” As data indicates a rise in construction sector fatalities, along with an overall construction employment increase, he added, OSHA is continuing extensive outreach and strong enforcement campaigns in the industry.