US Workplace Injuries Fell in 2017

Workers on a roof can sustain workplace injuries

The rate of  workplace injuries has once again fallen in the United States, marking a trend that has continued since 2006. According to a study from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the rate of workplace injuries in the U.S. has decreased between 2 and 9 percent annually over the past decade. The trend persists across all demographics, but was most dramatic in workers age 25 to 34, in whom the rate of injuries fell by almost 50 percent.

The highest rate of workplace injuries in the time period studied occurred in workers 55 to 64 and 45 to 64 years respectively. Older workers also suffered more on-the-job fatalities than any other age group, according to  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In all, 15 percent of fatal workplace injuries in 2017 occured in workers over age 65. In 1992, that number was 8 percent. Older workers also needed more time away from work to recover when they were injured on the job.

The gender gap also appears to be closing, at least as it applies to injuries on the job. Although women continue to report fewer injuries than men, the number of women injured on the job over the past decade declined far less than the number of men. According to the BLS, the number of male workers who sustained workplace injuries fell from 142 per 100,000 full-time equivalents in 2006 to 95 per 100,000 FTEs in 2017. Meanwhile the number of injured female workers fell from 106 to 82 during that same time frame.

Fatal Injuries Dip Slightly

The BLS also reported a slight decrease in the number of fatal workplace injuries in 2017, from 3.6 per 100,000 FTEs in 2016 to 3.5 per 100,000 FTEs in 2016. However, the total number of on-the-job fatalities (5,147) exceeded to 5,000 mark for the second year in a row, and fatal falls reached the highest number since the BLS began compiling statistics 26 years ago. Nonetheless, transportation-related incidents remained the top cause of workplace fatalities, accounting for over 40 percent of on-the-job deaths.

Unsurprisingly, unintentional overdoses were one cause of fatal workplace injuries that did not decrease in 2017. The number of workers who died on the job after ingesting drugs and/or alcohol rose to 272 in 2017, an increase of just over 25 percent over 2016. This trend mirrors the rate of drug-related deaths in the population as a whole, which more than doubled between 2000 and 2014.

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