U.S. Labor Statistics Show 12 Workers A Day Died On The Job In 2012; New York Region Leads Country in Work Fatalities
Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) released this past Thursday show a reduction in the number of fatal work injuries in 2012 compared with 2011. The 2012 total represents the second lowest preliminary total since CFOI was first conducted in 1992. The statistics are analyzed by different categories: worker characteristics, type of incident, industry, occupation, state and metropolitan statistical area ( MSA). The MSAs with the most fatal occupational injuries in 2012 were New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (NY-NJ-PA) with 178.
The CFOI statistics show that fatal work injuries in construction and extraction occupations rose for the second year in a row to 838—a 5 percent increase from 2011. A contractor is defined as a worker employed by one firm but working at the behest of another firm that exercises overall responsibility for the operations at the site where the decedent was fatally injured.
The prevalence of fatal occupational injuries in New York and the increase in fatal wok injuries in construction and extraction occupations should go a long way to debunking the current push in Albany to ease the protections of the Labor Law. Specious arguments are being advanced that New York’s protections are too rigid and are driving away business.
Holding the firm that exercises overall responsibility for site operations liable to workers for failing to provide a safe place to work (in certain, delineated situations) is precisely a primary goal of the Labor Law, such as the “Scaffold Law” or protections afforded to window washers. The statistics establish that workers still need all of the protection they can get for their safety.
Last year, 4,383 workers died from work-related injuries, down from a final count of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011. Based on preliminary counts, the rate of fatal workplace injuries in 2012 was 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from a rate of 3.5 per 100,000 in 2011.
The analysis of fatal accidents by the type of incident was broken-down into types: transportation incidents; exposure to harmful substances or environments; violence and other injuries by persons or animals; falls, slips and trips; fires and explosions, contact with objects and equipment.
Transportation incidents accounted for more than 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2012. Of the 1,789 transportation-related fatal injuries, about 58 percent (1,044 cases) were roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles. Fatal falls, slips, or trips took the lives of 668 workers in 2012, down slightly from 2011. Falls to a lower level accounted for 544 or about 81 percent of those fatalities. In 2012, the height of the fall was reported in 437 of the fatal falls to a lower level. Of those cases, about one in four occurred after a fall of 10 feet or less. Another one-fourth of the fatal fall cases occurred from falls of over 30 feet.
Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers was the subgroup within transportation and material moving occupations with the highest number of fatal injuries. Fatal injuries to taxi drivers and chauffeurs were down 28 percent to a series low of 46.
While the total number of fatal work injuries involving contact with objects and equipment in 2012 remained about the same as in 2011, the number of workers fatally injured after being struck by objects or equipment increased by 7 percent (to 509 fatal work injuries in 2012 from 476 in 2011). This total includes 233 workers struck by falling objects or equipment and 199 struck by powered vehicles or mobile equipment not in normal operation.