There were 5,190 workplace fatalities reported in the U.S. in 2016, a seven percent increase over the previous year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of 2016 Fatal Occupational Injuries, the fatal injury rate increased from 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2015 to 3.6 in 2016.
It was the third consecutive annual increase and the first time in nearly a decade that the number has surpassed 5,000 according to the National Safety Council, which said it is “very disheartened” by the news.
More workers lost their lives in transportation incidents than any other event in 2016, accounting for about one out of every four fatal injuries. Workplace violence injuries increased by 23 percent, making it the second most common cause of workplace fatality. Two other events with large changes were exposure to harmful substances or environments, which rose 22 percent, and fires and explosions, which declined 27 percent.
The new report also shows the number of overdoses on the job increased by 32 percent in 2016, and the number of fatalities linked to overdoses has increased by at least 25 percent annually since 2012.
Loren Sweatt, deputy assistant secretary for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), said the increase in fatalities was the biggest since 2008.
“America’s workers deserve better,” Sweatt said in a statement, in which she vowed that OSHA will “work to address these trends through enforcement, compliance assistance, education and training and outreach” and the government will “work with public and private stakeholders to help eradicate the opioid crisis as a deadly and growing workplace issue.
Occupations with increases greater than 10 percent in the number of fatal work injuries in 2016 include food preparation and serving related occupations (64 percent); installation, maintenance, and repair occupations (20 percent); building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations (14 percent); and sales and related occupations (11 percent).