Summary of news release, National Safety Council, April 26, 2018
Fatal work injuries reached 5,190 in 2016, representing a third consecutive annual increase. Statistics show that certain situations or populations of workers are more likely than others to become injured or killed at work. The following six factors have particular significance for the health and safety of employees.
- Driving: In 2016, transportation-related incidents were the most common cause of worker fatalities. Totaling 2,083, up from 2,054 in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers can help protect their workforce through workplace driving policies and education. The NSC offers a free Safe Driving Kit for employers.
- Older Workers: Deaths among workers age 55 and older totaled 1,848 in 2016, a 9.9% increase from 2015. One contributing factor is that baby boomers are remaining in the workforce longer. Injuries suffered can also be more serious due to age. Employers should take appropriate measures to address potential risks to older employees.
- Contract/temporary workers: 856 workplace fatalities occurred to contract or temporary workers in 2016. These workers often perform higher-risk jobs at work sites, often without proper management supervision. Employers that use contract or temporary workers should implement a formal contractor management program.
- Falls: 849 workplace fatalities were caused by falls, slips and trips in 2016, which is a 6% increase from 2015. Men are at most risk. Supervisors should first determine whether working from a height is necessary, and if it is, they need to plan ahead by assessing the risk and using the right equipment.
- Workplace violence: 500 deaths caused by workplace violence occurred in 2016, representing a 19% increase in homicides in the workplace from 2015. Every workplace should develop a workplace violence policy that includes an emergency action plan, training employees, conducting mock training exercises with local law enforcement, and adopting a zero-tolerance policy.
- Drugs and alcohol: Overdoses from use of drugs or alcohol on the job increased by 32% in 2016, up to 217 fatalities. Employers should have clear policies on drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Concerning opioid abuse, employers should insist that participating medical use providers use conservative prescribing guidelines for pain management. Also consider implementing employee assistance programs.