The International Labour Office estimates that around 2.2 million people lose their lives each year due to work-related diseases and accidents around the world. They also indicate that this number may be “vastly under estimated” due to poor reporting in some places. Here in the United States, we’re fortunate to have labor laws and regulations that protect our workers’ health and safety. Still, workplace fatalities do happen.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of on-the-job injuries and fatalities. They’ve just released their summary of 2015 data. Let’s take a look at what they’ve learned, and at the five jobs that saw the most fatalities.
First, some key findings from the report:
– There were 4,836 fatal workplace injuries in 2015, which is the highest the rate has been since 2008. (However, the rate was 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, which was down from the 3.43 rate in 2014.)
– Incidents of roadway fatalities were up 9 percent from the previous year, and they accounted for nearly one-quarter of fatal occupational injuries in 2015. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers reported 745 fatalities this year, which is the most of any occupation. In terms of fatality rate, the job is ranked 7th on the list of deadliest jobs.
– The private construction industry incurred 937 fatal work injuries in 2015, which was the highest reported rate since 2008.
– Injuries related to the private oil and gas extraction industry were 38 percent lower in 2015 than the previous year.
– The age group with the highest fatality rate was workers ages 65 and older, with 9.4 fatal injuries per 100,000.
– Men accounted for 93 percent of the work place fatalities suffered in 2015.
Here are the five jobs with the highest rates of reported workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2015:
Per 100,000 workers, loggers have the deadliest job in America. These workers earn a median income of $14 an hour, and they have an exhausting and extremely dangerous job. In 2015, there were about 53,700 loggers working in the U.S., and 67 fatalities, which added up to a fatality rate of 132.7.
Fishers and related fishing workers.
Fishers, and those in related fishing occupations, also have dangerous jobs. They suffered 23 fatal injuries in 2015, which equaled a fatality rate of 54.8. The fishing industry is not for the faint of heart. The unpredictable impacts from the water, the weather, and the fishing itself leads to some pretty challenging conditions for workers.
Like within the fishing industry, farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers are dealing with factors beyond their control on a daily basis. The combination of that unpredictability, and the fast-paced and physical nature of the work, is part of the reason these folks also have one of the highest rates of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. (They’re eighth on the list.)
When we think about airplane crashes, commercial incidents are probably the first that come to mind. But, smaller private planes have trouble too, and many of these accidents account for the 57 fatalities suffered by these workers in 2015. Their fatal injury rate is 40.4.
Roofers have a dangerous job, for obvious reasons. They suffered 75 fatalities in 2015, which adds up to a fatality rate of 39.7. These workers earn about $15 an hour for their challenging labor.
These workers spend a lot of time on the road, which can be dangerous in and of itself. (See the statistic on roadway fatalities under “key findings” above.) But, to make matters worse, these workers sometimes toil after dark, and they must move very quickly. That adds up to risk of injury moving on and off the roadway as they perform their job. These workers face a fatal injury rate of 38.8.
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