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Fatal Occupational Injuries 2013, Part 1

The preliminary results of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2013 were released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics., a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The report contained mostly good news: Fatal work injuries were down in 2013 from 2012 by six percent in private industry.

The Good News About Workplace Safety

The 3,929 private industry workplace deaths represent the lowest number of such fatalities since the census began in 1992. Other good news: The number of fatal work injuries involving workers under age 16 was down significantly, falling from 19 in 2012 to 5 in 2013. This is also the lowest number ever reported. Self-employed worker injuries were also down significantly, from 1,057 in 2012 to 892 in 2013.

The Bad News About Workplace Safety

The largely positive news about workplace fatalities is balanced by some less-than-good numbers. Fatality numbers among Hispanic or Latino workers were higher in 2013 than in 2012, increasing seven percent.   Contractors were more likely to die in 2013 than in 2012. Fire fighters experienced a sharp increase in fatalities, largely from a few major incidents such as the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona  that killed 19 fire fighters.  Work-related suicides were eight percent higher in 2013 than in 2012.

How Workers Died in 2013

Analysis of the causes of death in the workplace reveals the major categories of incidents in which workers died in 2013:

  • Fatal transportation incidents accounted for 40 percent of all work injuries.
  • Violence in the workplace killed 763 workers, with shootings being the most common cause of death.
  • Slips, trips and falls killed 699 workers in 2013.
  • Being struck by an object or equipment killed 717 workers, a lower number than in 2012.
  • Fires and explosions killed 148 workers, an increase over 2012 that the BLS attributes to the fires in Arizona where 19 workers died.

Where Workers Died in 2013

Certain industries appear more frequently on lists of fatal workplace accident locations.  In 2013, for example, these industry sectors had the most deaths:

  • Construction
  • Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Government , including federal, state and local government

In Part 2 of this blog post, we will summarize additional information published in the preliminary 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.