Every job carries some risk of death, though some occupations are obviously much more dangerous than others. Do you know the top causes of workplace or work-related fatality? The reality may surprise you.
Labor statistics reveal the most common work fatalities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks work-related fatalities. There were a total of 5,147 deaths in the U.S. in 2017. This is down slightly from 2016 but fatalities have been trending up for the last decade.
Dying in a vehicle crash or being struck by a vehicle while on duty is the most common work-related fatality. Transportation incidents account for nearly half (47 percent) of all worker deaths. There were 2,077 deaths among over-the-road truckers, delivery drivers, couriers and other truck drivers, as well as others who travel for their jobs, including sales workers and drivers for car services.
2. Slips, trips and falls
You may not think that a fall or a tripping accident could result in death, but even something that seems simple can turn deadly. Slipping on a slick floor can cause head injury, sometimes leading to fatal complications. Falls from heights, including ladder falls and scaffolding accidents, are one of the greatest dangers for constructions workers, roofers and painters. There were 887 deaths in 2017 resulting from falls, slips and trips.
3. Workplace violence
The most surprising statistic is that “violence and other injuries by persons or animals” is the third-leading cause of workplace deaths. The BLS reports that 807 people died from workplace violence. That figures includes shootings and other fatal altercations with co-workers, as well as suicides at the workplace. Workplace violence has seen an uptick in recent years. Gun violence at work often kills innocent bystanders.
The fourth leading cause of death at work (695 fatalities) was contact with objects and equipment, such as machinery accidents, falling objects or flying debris. Fifth on the list (531 deaths) was exposure to harmful substances, such as industrial chemicals. While major catastrophes often make the news, workplace fires and explosions only claimed 123 lives in 2017.
Compensation for a work-related death
Family members may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits when a loved one dies in a work-related capacity. Wrongful death lawsuits due to workplace incidents have also risen with the trend in workplace violence. An attorney can help understand your rights if a loved one has died on the job.