Fatal Occupational Injuries on the Rise

January 06, 2020
There were 5,250 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2018, a 2% increase from the 5,147 in 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. (See chart 1 and table 1.) The fatal work injury rate remained unchanged at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. (See chart 2.) These data are from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), released in December, 2019.
Fatal event or exposure
  • Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event at 2,080, accounting for 40% of all work-related fatalities. (See chart 3 and table 2.)
  • Incidents involving contact with objects and equipment increased 13% (from 695 to 786), driven by a 39% increase in workers caught in running equipment or machinery and a 17% increase in workers struck by falling objects or equipment.
  • Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased 12% from 272 to 305. This is the sixth consecutive annual increase.
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased 3 percent in 2018, due to an 11% increase in work-related suicides from 275 to 304.
  • Fatal falls, slips, and trips decreased 11% to 791, after reaching a series high of 887 in 2017. This decline was due to a 14% drop in falls to a lower level (713 to 615), the lowest total since 2013.
  • Driver/sales workers and truck drivers had the most fatalities of any broad occupation group at 966. Among all detailed occupations, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the most fatalities at 831.
  • In 2018, logging workers, fishers and related fishing workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, and roofers all had fatality rates more than 10 times the all-worker rate of 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers. (See chart 4.)
  • Police and sheriffís patrol officers had 108 fatalities in 2018, up 14 percent from 2017.
  • Fatal injuries to taxi drivers and chauffeurs declined by 24 percent to 47, the lowest total since 2003 when comparable data for the occupation were first available.
Fatal injury counts by occupation are available at https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/all_worker.xlsx.
Fatality rates by occupation are available at https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfoi_rates_2018hb.xlsx.
Independent workers
In 2016, the CFOI began identifying fatal injuries to independent workers. Independent workers are involved in a work relationship that is finite and involves a single task, short-term contract, or freelance work.
  • In 2018, there were 621 fatal injuries to independent workers, up from 613 in 2017.
  • Independent workers comprised 12 percent of all fatal injuries in 2018.
  • Occupations with the most fatal work injuries to independent workers in 2018 were heavy and tractor trailer-truck drivers (96), followed by first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (61), and construction laborers (48).
Fatal occupational injury data for independent workers are available shortly at:
Worker demographics
  • Fatalities to non-Hispanic Black or African American workers increased 16 percent to 615 in 2018, the highest total since 1999. Their fatal injury rate also increased from 3.2 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2017 to 3.6 in 2018.
  • Hispanic or Latino workers experienced 961 fatalities in 2018, a 6 percent increase from 2017. Sixty-seven percent of fatally-injured Hispanic or Latino workers were born outside of the United States.
  • Though the number of fatalities declined for workers age 65 years and over in 2018, their fatal work-injury rate is still more than double the all-worker rate. (See table 1.)
  • A total of 20 states and the District of Columbia had fewer fatal injuries in 2018 than 2017, while 28 states had more; Arkansas and Oklahoma had the same number as 2017.
Fatal occupational injury data for foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers are available at:
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Cannabis and Δ9-THC Listed as Reproductive Hazard
Effective January 3, 2020, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is adding cannabis smoke and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity (developmental endpoint) for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Cannabis was previously listed as a carcinogen.
At a public meeting on December 11, 2019, the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) in its official capacity as the “state’s qualified experts” determined that cannabis (marijuana) smoke and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) were shown to cause reproductive toxicity based on the developmental endpoint. Regulations for the listing of chemicals by the DARTIC are set out in Title 27, California Code of Regulations, section 25305(b)(1).
A complete, updated Proposition 65 chemical list is available on the OEHHA website at https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list.
Georgia Tire Distribution Center Cited for Fall, Struck-By and Other Workplace Hazards
OSHA has cited Mavis Southeast LLC – operating as Mavis Discount Tire – for exposing employees to fall, struck-by and other hazards at the company’s distribution facility in Buford, Georgia. The company faces $191,895 in penalties.
OSHA cited the tire company for exposing employees to fire hazards by failing to ensure emergency exits were not blocked and there was signage to the nearest exit. Other violations include exposing employees to struck-by and crushing hazards from damaged storage shelving, and failing to inspect fall protection equipment, train employees on the safe operation of powered industrial trucks, and mark aisles and passageways.
"Implementing comprehensive safety and health programs that include steps for identifying and eliminating hazards protects workers, and can help prevent injuries and illnesses," said OSHA Area Director William Fulcher, in Atlanta-East.
OSHA provides compliance assistance resources on safely operating a forkliftwarehouse operations, and materials handling and storage.
Florida Roofing Contractor Cited for Repeatedly Exposing Employees to Fall Hazards
OSHA has cited CJM Roofing Inc. – based in West Palm, Florida – for exposing employees to fall and other hazards at three residential worksites in Royal Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie, Florida. The contractor faces penalties totaling $291,724.
OSHA initiated inspections in June, August and September of 2019, as part of the Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction, after inspectors observed employees working on roofs without fall protection. OSHA cited the company for failing to use a fall protection system, ensure that portable ladders extend above the upper landing, require that employees wear eye and face protection when operating pneumatic nail guns, and conduct regular inspections of the jobsite. OSHA has inspected the company five times in the past five years, resulting in repeat violations of the fall protection standard.
"Companies that fail to comply with safety and health requirements are placing workers at risk for injuries and illnesses," said OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Director Condell Eastmond. "This employer must take immediate action by conducting required hazard assessments and correcting dangerous working conditions."
"OSHA's educational resources are readily available to all employers and workers to understand how to provide a safe work environment and ensure compliance with the law," stated Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt.
Information on how to identify workplace hazards and implement safety and health programs is available on OSHA's Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs webpage.
Smelter Cited for Exposing Employees to Lead, Arsenic and Other Hazards 
OSHA has cited Mayco Manufacturing LLC – operating as Mayco Industries Inc. – for exposing employees to lead and arsenic in addition to machine, electrical and fall hazards. The Granite City, Illinois, lead smelter faces $223,148 in penalties for 18 serious health violations.
OSHA received a report that employees suffered caustic burns from water mixed with sodium hydroxide used to extinguish a fire. OSHA cited the company for failing to monitor for arsenic and maintain lead exposures below permissible exposure limits; train employees on arsenic and other chemical hazards; keep surfaces clean from lead and arsenic; and check the effectiveness of ventilation systems. OSHA also cited the company for failing to implement adequate medical surveillance procedures; keep adequate lead exposure air-monitoring records; assess respiratory hazards in other work areas; and provide an emergency eyewash station.
“Extended exposure to toxic metals can cause health disorders, such as impaired kidney, lung and nerve function, and can be fatal,” said OSHA Area Director Aaron Priddy in Fairview Heights, Illinois. “It is vital for the safety and health of workers that employers comply with OSHA’s standards on toxic and hazardous substances, and develop a comprehensive safety and health program to address all hazards in the workplace.”
OSHA’s lead and arsenic webpages provide information on what employers must do to limit worker exposures.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
North Dakota Grain Facility Cited After Employee Fatality
OSHA has cited Columbia Grain International (CGI) LLC for willfully exposing workers to grain-handling hazards after the fatal engulfment of an employee at the company’s Arvilla, North Dakota, storage facility. The company faces $190,000 in proposed penalties.
OSHA inspectors determined that CGI failed to follow OSHA standards during grain bin entry and cleaning operations. OSHA issued a willful citation for allowing employees to “walk the grain” and for not preventing contact with operating machine parts by locking out the bin’s conveyor system. Violations related to walking/working surfaces, ladder use, machine guarding, bin entry procedures and bin rescue procedures resulted in serious citations.
“This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had simply followed well-known safety procedures,” said OSHA Area Director Scott Overson in Bismarck, North Dakota. “Instead, they exposed employees to dangerous hazards that resulted in the loss of life.”
OSHA’s Grain Handling webpage provides resources on recognizing and controlling hazards in the grain industry. OSHA is collaborating with the National Grain and Feed Association, Grain Elevator and Processing Society, American Feed Industry Association, and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition to identify potential hazards at grain, feed and processing facilities through the Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week slated for April 13-20, 2020.
CGI has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Proposition 65 Safe Use Determination for Styrene in Fiber Care Baths, Inc. Bathware Products
California’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) received a request for a Safe Use Determination (SUD) for styrene in Fiber Care Baths, Inc. bathware products.
As provided in Sections 25204(a) and (k), OEHHA issued a SUD to Fiber Care Baths, Inc. for bathware products manufactured utilizing 1st and 2nd laminations systems and application of the LV-9800 acrylated gel-coat and without additional sources of styrene monomer in the products, as specified in the request.
OEHHA issued this safe use determination for styrene exposures to occupants of homes and other buildings with Fiber Care Baths, Inc. bathware products installed, when the bathware products have been manufactured by the specified standardized process utilizing 1st and 2nd laminations systems (with respective concentrations of styrene monomer of 13.8% and 12.2% by weight) and application of the LV-9800 acrylated gel-coat (with 5% styrene monomer by weight), and with no additional sources of styrene monomer in the product, and where bathware product styrene emission levels do not exceed 0.04 micrograms per square meter per hour (µg/m2-hr).
The essential elements and results of OEHHA’s assessments are described in the supporting documentation available at: https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-safe-use-determinations-suds.
Based on the screening-level exposure analysis described in the supporting documentation, an upper-end estimate of styrene exposure was determined for occupants of homes and other buildings (e.g., hospitals, long-term care facilities) with the specified Fiber Care Baths, Inc. bathware products installed.  This estimated exposure to styrene for building occupants with these bathware products installed, 0.41 micrograms per day (µg/day), is 1.5 percent of the No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) for styrene of 27 µg/day, which corresponds to an excess cancer risk of one in 100,000.  A warning is not required for styrene exposure from Fiber Care Baths, Inc. bathware products meeting these specifications for occupants of homes and other buildings where these specific products are installed.
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