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2018 US data: Transportation mishaps highest cause of work deaths

On Dec. 17, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), part of the Department of Labor, issued a news release about 2018 government data detailing aspects of on-the-job work fatalities that year. According to the agency, there were 5,250 work-related deaths in 2018 – 2% higher than in 2017.

In Illinois alone, there were 184 occupational fatalities in 2018, up from 163 in 2017.

How did workers get their fatal injuries?

These kinds of incidents caused the 2018 work fatalities nationally:

  • Transportation incidents, including those involving vehicles, aircraft, railways and boats: 2,080 deaths, mostly among truck drivers and “driver/sales workers”
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals, including intentional harm, homicide and suicide: 828 deaths
  • Falling, slipping and tripping: 791 deaths
  • Contact with objects and equipment: 786 deaths
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments, including electricity, extreme temperature, inhalation of harmful chemicals, and unintentional, nonmedical overdoses of drugs or alcohol: 621 deaths
  • Fire or explosion: 115 deaths

What were the characteristics of 2018 worker fatalities?

The overall 2018 fatality rate was 3.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. BLS points out that for some jobs, the fatality rate was over 10 times the overall rate:

  • Loggers
  • Fishers
  • Pilots and flight engineers
  • Roofers

Twelve percent of work-related fatalities in 2018 were to independent, nonemployee workers, up slightly from 2017. The most common jobs these independent contractors were in at the time of death were semi-truck drivers, construction supervisors, extraction workers (mining and oil and gas extraction, for example) and construction laborers.

Demographically, work fatality rates in 2018 of Black or African American workers as well as Hispanic or Latino workers increased over 2017. Workers over 65 died at more than twice the overall work fatality rate. The 2018 rate for male workers was 5.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time positions as compared to .6 for women.

Any surviving loved one or dependent of an Illinois worker who passed away in a work-related incident should speak with an attorney to understand what workers’ compensation benefits may be available as well as other potential legal remedies for their loss.