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Workplace fatalities on the rise across US

When it comes to workplace safety, the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a wealth of information. The organization recently finished reviewing 2016 statistics and there are some noteworthy takeaways concerning worker safety - and fatalities. 2016 is the most recent year with comprehensive data.

In 2016, workplace fatalities rose by 7 percent, to 5,190 total in the US. In addition to the total number of deaths on the job, the rate of fatalities also increased from 3.4 per 100,000 workers to 3.6 full-time employees. Work accidents have many causes, but data over the years shows that prevention is possible.

Notable stats from the review

  • The transportation industry made up almost 40 percent of worker fatalities.
  • Slips, trips and falls have increased by 25 percent since 2011.
  • Overdose deaths at work are a growing concern.
  • Workplace violence is increasingly a risk.
  • Foreign-born workers account for roughly one-fifth of fatalities.
  • Workers over age 55 had their highest numbers.
  • Rates increased notably in the hospitality and leisure industries.

Injury happens to everyone

This statistical snapshot shows a rise across different workforces. Different ages, skill sets, and backgrounds are all vulnerable to mistakes and poor conditions at work. While this post is focused on workplace fatalities, it goes without saying that far more injuries occur each year than fatalities.

A workplace is required to provide a safe environment, which is not limited to physical conditions. This also includes safety equipment like goggles, protective gear and proper tools. Training has proven essential to keeping workers safe as well.

Reports and recovery

When accidents do happen, all workers are eligible for workers' compensation to cover costs related to the injury or illness. Many employees are hesitant to apply because they worry about being blamed for the accident, punished for their claim, or are simply confused by the paperwork involved with the federal program. Workers' compensation is an insurance program that covers all worker injuries and it's protected by law so employees can't be punished for an injury or blamed for an incident.

The data shows just how serious a workplace injury can be. If something does happen, it's important to get the right treatment and to fully recover before returning to the job. When injuries aren't reported properly, it's easier for companies to lag on their prevention measures, and more workers will get hurt.

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