Fatal Workplace Injuries Rise

Crashes remain the leading cause of death, while fatal slips and falls decline.

December 23, 2019

WASHINGTON—There were 5,250 fatal workplace injuries in the U.S. in 2018, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s a 2% increase from 2017 when the number was 5,147.

The fatal work injury rate remained unchanged at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries indicate. The census counts all fatal work injuries that occur in the U.S. during the calendar year and uses a variety of state, federal and independent data to verify fatal work injuries.

In 2018, transportation-related incidents were the most frequent type of fatal event, accounting for 40% (2,080) of all work-related fatalities. Among all detailed occupations, drivers of heavy-duty trucks and tractor-trailers had the most fatalities at 831, the BLS reports.

Workplace deaths related to contact with objects and equipment increased 13% to 786 from 695 in 2017, amid a 39% rise in fatal incidents involving workers caught in running equipment and a 17% increase in workers struck by falling objects.

Fatal falls, slips, and trips fell 11% to 791, after reaching a series high of 887 in 2017. The decline was due to a 14% drop in falls to a lower level to 615, the lowest number since 2013.

Nationwide, 20 states and the District of Columbia had fewer fatal injuries in 2018 than in 2017, while 28 states had more.