Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases Summary of 2017 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

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On Tuesday, December 18, 2018, in an Economic News Release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) summarized the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 2017. The National Census is the most complete count of fatal work injuries in the United States. A workplace fatality must meet the following Criteria to be included in the CFOI:

1. It must have resulted from a traumatic injury
2. The incident that led to the death must have occurred in the United States, its territories, or its territorial waters or airspace.
3. It must be work-related as defined by OSHA 29 CFR 1904 Recordkeeping standards.

BLS explains that most cases are straight-forward; however, some fatalities fall within a gray area where there might be insufficient information to include or exclude the accident from the CFOI definitively.

The 2017 CFOI showed a surprising slight decrease in the number of fatalities as compared to 2016 data. There were a total of 5,147 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2017, down slightly from 5,190 reported deaths in 2016. Some claim that the decrease is surprising due to the increase in construction, manufacturing, and mining GPD as well as the tighter budget constraints hinged upon OSHA and other state and federal compliance branches.

However, some statistics were not trending lower overall. Fatal falls were at their highest level in the 26-year history of the CFOI accounting for 887 (17%) of the worker deaths. Transportation incidents remained the most frequent fatal event in 2017 with 2,077 (40%). Violence and other injuries by persons or animals fell by 7% along with homicides and suicides decreasing by 8% and 5% respectively.

Other key findings of the 2017 CFOI revealed that 15% of the reported fatalities in 2017 were workers who were 65 years of age or older, a series high. In 1992, when the CFOI was first published, 65 and older worker deaths accounted for only 8%.
Fatal occupational injuries in the private manufacturing industry and wholesale trade industry were at their lowest figures since 2003. Oil and gas extraction industries accounted for over 70% of oil and gas industry fatalities and were increased by 26% from 2016.

The state with the highest fatality rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers was Alaska at a rate of 10.2, followed closely by North Dakota at a rate of 10.1, and Wyoming at a rate of 7.7.

For more information on the 2017 CFOI, and to view the full release, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

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