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Fatal Workplace Injuries Decrease; Grounds Crew Workers Most at Risk

Despite gains in workplace safety, fatal falls and drug overdoses on the job remain high in addition to risks for grounds maintenance workers.

December 20, 2018

Last year, 5,147 U.S. workers died from injuries they suffered on the job, according to a report released this week from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of fatal injuries is slightly down from 2016, when 5,190 workers died from injuries on the worksite.

Many different types of injuries saw decreases, including:

  • Contact with objects and equipment (695 in 2017 compared to 761 in 2016)
  • Violence and other injuries from people or animals (807 in 2017 compared to 866 in 2016)
  • Transportation incidents (2,077 in 2017 compared to 2,083 in 2016).

However, despite these decreases, fatal falls were at their highest in the 26-year history of the report, with 887 workers dying from falls. This number represents 17 percent of worker deaths in 2017.

Unintentional overdoses due to the nonmedical use of drugs, such as opioids, and alcohol while at work increased 25 percent from 217 in 2016 to 272 in 2017. This was the fifth consecutive year in which workplace overdose deaths increased by at least 25 percent.

Grounds maintenance workers (including first-line supervisors) were among the workers most at risk of dying from injuries on the job, with 244 fatalities in 2017. Although this was a small decrease from the 247 deaths in 2016, it was still the second-highest total for this line of work since 2003.

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