The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a worrying increase in the number of fatal workplace injuries in the United States. There were 5,190 workplace fatalities recorded in 2016, marking a seven percent rise from 2015 and the highest level since 2008.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) admitted more needs to be done to improve workplace safety and worker health. OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said in a statement, “America’s workers deserve better . . . OSHA will work to address these trends through enforcement, compliance assistance, education and training, and outreach.”
According to the bureau, the most common type of fatal workplace accident involved transportation, accounting for 40 percent of all worker deaths. Other top causes were workplace violence related to other people or animals, followed by slip and fall accidents. There was also a dramatic uptick in drug-related fatalities in the workplace, increasing annually by 25 percent since 2012.
The data also revealed another cause for concern. In 2016 there was an increase in fatalities among older workers, as well as African-American and Asian workers. The disturbing trends in the report highlight the fact that more worker protections and oversight are needed to ensure that the workplace is not dangerous, especially for the country’s vulnerable groups of workers.
“Employers cannot ignore this data, particularly since many different demographics are affected,” the National Safety Council said in a statement. “All employers need to take a systematic approach to ensure the safety of all of their workers. This includes having policies and training in place to address the major causes of fatalities as well as . . . continually looking to identify and mitigate workplace safety hazards.”