The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a report for 2016 that shows double-digit increases in workplace violence and overdose fatalities. Fatal work injuries increased by seven percent over 2015 numbers to the highest level seen since 2008. A total of 5,190 people died in the U.S. in 2016 from work injuries vs. 4,836 in 2015. Overall the fatal injury rate increased to the highest level seen since 2010. In 2016, it reached 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
Transportation incidents were the number one cause of fatalities in the workplace in 2016 accounting for 40 percent of the total. The second most common cause of workplace fatalities was workplace violence by people or animals which increased 23 percent to 866 cases. Workplace homicides and suicides were also up from 2015. There were 500 homicides, the most since 2010, and 291 suicides. The number of suicides was the highest ever recorded since the census began in 1992.
The third highest cause of workplace fatalities were injuries from slip and falls or trip and falls. From 2011 to 2016, this type of fatality has increased by 25 percent with a total of 849 workers dying in 2016.
Echoing the national opioid epidemic, overdoses saw an increase of 32 percent from 2015 to 2016. Overdoses from the nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work took 217 lives. Since 2012 overdose fatalities have increased every year by at least 25 percent.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sees increasing evidence of the impact of the U.S. opioid crisis in the workplace and intends to work together with other public and private stakeholders toward the eradication of opioid abuse.
In a statement, OSHA said that they are working to address all the trends evident in the report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to improve workplace safety and health. Besides enforcement of safety standards, OSHA will also use compliance assistance, education, training, and outreach to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces.
The report provides a breakdown of fatal injuries experienced by ethnic groups as well. Approximately one-fifth of total fatal work injuries are suffered by foreign-born workers, 37 percent of whom are born in Mexico and 19 percent in Asia. Asian, non-Hispanic workers saw a 40 percent increase over the previous year in fatal injuries, the largest of any ethnic group. They were followed by Black or African-American, non-Hispanic workers, whose fatal injury rate increased by 19 percent. The rate for Hispanic and Latino workers decreased by three percent to 879 fatalities.
Many work-related accidents are preventable. All employers must comply with OSHA and other standards to provide a safe workplace. If you have experienced a work injury caused by unsafe conditions or other hazard, report it to your employer and seek medical care.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a work-related accident, talk to a dedicated Pittsburgh work injury lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C. Our experienced legal team will fight for the maximum compensation allowable for your case. Call us at 800-243-6095 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Pittsburgh work injury lawyers. You can also contact us online. From our offices in Pittsburgh we represent clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including those in Allegheny County, Washington County, and Lawrence County.