November 15, 2018

Construction, cross-country trucking and cattle ranching

are among the deadliest professions in the U.S., according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A total of 5,190 people died of injuries in American workplaces in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. It represents a 7 percent increase compared to 4,836 deaths at work in 2015.

Nationwide, 40 percent, or 2,083 on-the-job deaths in 2016 were related to transportation – typically deaths while workers were driving. Another 866 (nearly 17 percent) were due to violence or injuries by another person or animal, while 849 (16 percent) were due to falls, slips and trips.

Construction was one of the deadliest industries, with 991 deaths in 2016, including 384 due to falls and slips; 246 due to transportation (driving) incidents and 166 from coming into contact with objects and equipment. Under the construction category, the most likely to die were specialty trade contractors, with 631 suffering fatal injuries on the job in 2016.

Contractors who work on foundations, structures and building exteriors were next most likely to die, with 244 fatalities in that specialty in 2016. The transportation and warehousing category also had high fatalities, with 825 deaths in 2016. The vast majority (601) were due to transportation incidents. The majority of deaths (570) within that category were among truck drivers, 444 of whom died in a transportation incident.

The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting category followed, with 593 deaths, including 265 due to transportation and 187 from contact with objects and equipment. Under that industry category, crop production was the most deadly job with 261 fatalities – 125 due to transportation incidents. Animal production and aquaculture was the next deadliest (151), followed by cattle ranching and farming (130) and forestry and logging (106).

The category of professional and business services was surprisingly dangerous, with 540 on-the-job deaths in 2016 – 200 as a result of driving and 111 from slips and falls. Government workers were also at risk, with 497 deaths at work in 2016, including 232 transportation-related deaths and 146 violent incidents involving another person or animal. Federal employees accounted for 107 of the deaths and 23 of the violent attacks.

The vast majority (4,693) of American workplace deaths were in private industry, including 1,991 who work for companies that produce goods and 1,316 workers in trade, transportation and utilities industries.

Nationwide, some 761 (more than 14 percent) of workplace-related deaths resulted from coming in contact with objects and equipment, and 518 were due to exposure to harmful substances or environments. Another 88 died as a result of fires or explosions. Texas had the highest total number of on-the-job deaths in 2016, with 545.

However, Texas also had a relatively low rate of 4.4 workplace deaths per 10,000 people that year, with the highest concentration among people working in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.

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