Given that technology is constantly evolving, new regulations are regularly rolled out and workers and employers alike have more access than ever to information, it would seem – at a glance – that worker injury and fatality rates should be dropping steadily every year. Frustratingly, this is not the case.
According to the data released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics in mid-December of 2023, worker fatalities in the U.S. jumped by more than 5% in 2022. With the exception of 2020, this marks the seventh year in a row that more than 5,000 workers died as a result of occupational hazards in the U.S. in a single year.
What is going on?
Overall, transportation accidents remain the primary cause of work-related death in the U.S. Of the more than 5,400 occupational fatalities in 2022, 2,066 were related to transportation. In total, that means that 37.7% of all fatal work-related injuries during that period were caused by transportation accidents.
Although not as deadly as transportation concerns, unintentional overdose deaths of workers increased by an astonishing 13.1%. In all 525 workers died in this way in 2022, up from 464 in 2021. As a result of this startling trend, the National Safety Council released a statement in which it stressed that “More must be done by employers to prevent these fatalities… Overdoses can happen anywhere, and the BLS report shows these medical emergencies can be fatal and are occurring in the workplace.” Having access to naloxone in the workplace was cited as one of the ways in which employers can help to mitigate this particular occupational risk.
In 2022, a worker died on the job every 96 minutes. The risks of occupational hazards cannot be emphasized strongly enough. Workers who are concerned about their safety on the job and the loved ones of workers who have been lost due to occupational hazards can seek legal guidance at any time for personalized feedback and support.