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BLS Report Shows Transportation Causes Most Workplace Fatalities

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Every year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces a report on work-related injuries and fatalities.

According to data from 2014—the most recent data available—there were a total of 4,679 workers killed on the job that year throughout the nation. That works out to about 90 worker deaths a week, or more than 13 deaths every day. This was an increase of 2 percent over the number of workers killed in 2013.

How did Pennsylvania do? Fatal work injuries totaled 175, a decline of 8 from the previous year. The highest percentage of these occurred in transportation incidents.

Where are the Most Fatalities Occurring?

Overall, the data shows that the number of fatal work injuries went up in the following industries nationwide:

• Private goods-producing
• Mining
• Agriculture
• Manufacturing
• Construction

Falls, slips, and trips went up by 10 percent, as did fatal injuries to self-employed workers. Fatal work injuries due to transportation incidents also increased slightly, with transportation responsible for 40 percent of fatal injuries. Fifty-seven percent of these were roadway incidents, and 17 percent were pedestrian-vehicle incidents—up 6 percent from the year before.

Falling objects were another concern, responsible for the largest proportion of fatal injuries in the “objects and equipment” category. And while fatal injuries caused by fires went down, those caused by explosions went up by 25 percent, mostly because of an increase in explosions of pressure vessels, piping, and tires.

Of all occupational injuries, transportation and material moving occupations accounted for the largest share of fatal occupational injuries. They rose by 3 percent between 2013 and 2014, arriving at the highest total since 2008. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers accounted for nearly 2 out of every 3 fatal injuries in this group.

Transportation Incidents Claim Most Pennsylvania Workers’ Lives

In Pennsylvania, 74 fatal work injuries resulted from transportation incidents and 29 from contact with objects and equipment. These were the most common causes of worker deaths. The third most frequent event was falls, slips, or trips, with 25 fatalities.

According to 42% occurring in a BLS press release, transportation incidents were the most frequent fatal workplace events in 2014, with Pennsylvania. Workers 25-54 years old accounted for 52 percent of the state’s work-related fatalities.

Within private industry, construction caused the largest number of fatalities—a total of 40 compared to 26 the previous year.

Meanwhile, as far as injuries were concerned, torn ligaments and muscles (sprains and strains) were the most common across all of Pennsylvania’s major industries—most as a result of being struck by an object.