[Updated] Fatal Occupational Injuries in California Are Down; Federal Numbers Rise in Certain Occupations and Industries

Sep 17 2015 - Workplace Safety - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

TransportationInjury

Transportation incidents account for more fatal work injuries than any other event in 2014.

Today, the Department of Industrial relations posted preliminary workplace fatality statistics for California in 2014. Those numbers show a 16 percent decrease from the final 2013 data. The state numbers are the lowest reported since 2010, with 334 fatal work injuries statewide in 2014.

More than one-third of all California workplace deaths identified in 2014 occurred in transportation incidents.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also released preliminary results on the number of workplace fatalities nationwide. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows the overall rate of fatal work injuries from 2014 remaining the same as 2013 (3.3 per every 100,000 workers); however, certain occupations and industries have increased fatality rates. The following are some of the key findings from the nationwide results:

  • Transportation and material moving occupations had the largest share of fatal occupational injuries of any occupation group. Drivers/sales workers and truckers accounted for nearly two out of every three fatalities in this group.
  • Fatal work injuries in the construction industry rose to 874 in 2014 (up 6 percent). This is the highest total for this occupation group since 2008. The fatal injury rate for workers in the private construction industry was 9.5 per 100,000 workers in 2014.
  • Fatal work injuries were also higher in agriculture (up 14 percent), manufacturing (up 9 percent) and private goods-producing industries (up 9 percent).
  • The number of fatalities among contract workers rose to 17 percent of all fatal injuries. Fatally-injured contract workers were most often contracted by a firm in the construction industry (21 percent of all contracted worker deaths).

The preliminary results also provide demographic information, including:

  • Fatalities among workers age 55 and over rose to 9 percent in 2014 — with the highest total number of fatalities among this age group ever reported by the census.
  • Women incurred 13 percent more fatal work injuries in 2014, but women still only account for 8 percent of all fatal work injuries.

The preliminary results also provide information on the type of incident that led to a workplace death. For instance, transportation incidents account for 40 percent of workplace fatalities. Falls, slips and trips that resulted in workplace death were up 10 percent.

Fatal work injuries due to violence were down and other injuries by persons or animals were lower in 2014, but the number of workplace homicides remained the same. Among workplace homicides in which women were the victims, the most frequent assailants were relatives or domestic partners (32 percent of those homicides). In workplace homicides involving men, robbers were the most common type of assailant (33 percent).

These preliminary results were based on nationwide statistics. In California, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) oversees programs to protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job. California’s safety and health regulations are generally stronger than federal OSHA regulations and cover more hazards.

California employers must take certain measures in the workplace, including notice and posting requirements and an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

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