OHS Canada Magazine

Number of U.S. worker deaths rose through 2018

Concerns raised as report indicates 2 per cent increase in fatalities over 2017


December 17, 2019
By OHS Canada
OHS Canada
Categories
Health & Safety

The number of workplace fatalities in the U.S. jumped in 2018. (annette shaff/Adobe Stock)

A total of 5,250 workers died from a work-related injury in the United States in 2018 — up two per cent from 2017’s totals.

The news was released Dec. 17 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Motor vehicle crashes (1,276 fatalities) and falls (615) remain the leading causes of preventable death on the job, while drugs and alcohol grew as a workplace threat (305).

The fatal work injury rate remained unchanged at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

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American safety organizations were quick to react to the news, with the National Safety Council (NSC) indicating the 2018 rate is the highest seen in the U.S. since 2008.

The data shows employers are still not doing enough to protect workers, according to a NSC news release.

“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,” the release states. “Leadership needs to set the tone from the top and engage all workers in safety.”

Meanwhile, the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) noted this is the fourth time in five years that fatal occupational injuries have increased.

The ASSP is urging employers to be more active in adopting voluntary consensus standards and implementing health and safety management systems.

“With the innovative tools available to today’s employers nationwide, it’s concerning that we’re continuing to see higher numbers of workplace fatalities,” said ASSP president Diana Stegall.