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New Report: Top 5 States, Industries for Workplace Fatalities

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  • Leadership & Strategy

New Report: Top 5 States, Industries for Workplace Fatalities

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL CIO) has released its 33rd annual report on health and safety protections for American workers.

“Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” released last month, examines the toll of workplace fatalities and injuries in 2022, the latest labor data available.

Latest stats on workplace fatalities

After examining the data, the report determined:

  • 5,486 workers died on the job in the U.S. in 2022, a 5.7% increase from the previous year.
  • Put another way, a worker died every 96 minutes from a work-related injury in 2022.
  • An estimated 120,000 workers died from occupational diseases.
  • The job fatality rate was 3.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. Minority employees died on the job at higher rates: 4.2 workplace fatalities per 100,000 for Black workers and 4.6 per 100,000 for Latino workers.
  • 43 workers died from heat on the job.
  • Unintentional overdoses at work increased 13% from 2021 to 2022.
  • Workplace homicides and workplace suicides increased 9% and 13%, respectively, from 2021 to 2022.

The deadliest jobs in America

By industry, the most dangerous jobs with the highest workplace fatality rates were in:

  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting: 18.6 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers
  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction: 16.6 per 100,000 workers
  • Transportation and warehousing: 14.1 per 100,000 workers
  • Construction: 9.6 per 100,000 workers
  • Wholesale trade: 5.4 per 100,000 workers

States with the most workplace fatalities

The report also looked at locations and found the states with the highest workplace fatality rates were:

  • Wyoming: 12.7 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers
  • North Dakota: 9.8 per 100,000 workers
  • Mississippi: 6.9 per 100,000 workers
  • New Mexico and West Virginia (tie): 6.8 per 100,000 workers
  • Louisiana: 6.4 per 100,000 workers

Other demographics: Gender and age

Women’s workplace fatalities

In 2022, a total of 445 women died while working – a much smaller number than the 5,041 men who died at work that same year, the report found.

However, a larger percentage of women died from work-related homicides (18% of all workplace fatalities for women, compared with 9% for men).

Deaths of aging workers

Employees aged 65 and older are more than twice as likely to die on the job than all other workers, the report found. They had a workplace fatality rate of 8.8 per 100,000 in 2022.

Employees between the ages of 55 and 64 also have an increased risk, with 4.6 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers.

Young workers

In 2022, 419 employees under the age of 25 died on the job. Of those, 19 were minors under the age of 18.

The report noted that younger workers are at heightened risk, in part due to their:

  • limited (or nonexistent) work experience
  • limited opportunities to receive workplace safety training, and
  • limitations in strength or cognitive ability needed to perform certain tasks.

Plus, they may also be less likely to speak up when they face safety concerns.

The AFL CIO’s report also covers nonfatal injuries and includes dozens of charts and graphs to help readers interpret the data. Download the full 256-page report.

Key takeaways for HR

From this report, HR pros can draw several key takeaways to improve workplace safety and mitigate risks for employees:

  1. Increased vigilance for high-risk industries and states: Pay close attention to industries with high workplace fatality rates, such as agriculture, forestry, mining, transportation and construction. Similarly, states with elevated fatality rates warrant additional safety measures and scrutiny.
  2. Targeted safety training and protocols: Tailored safety training programs should be implemented, particularly in industries and regions identified as high-risk. Address specific hazards relevant to each industry, such as machine safety in agriculture or heat-related risks in outdoor jobs.
  3. Diversity and inclusion in safety measures: Ensure that safety measures are inclusive and address the unique challenges of Black and Latino employees. This may include culturally sensitive training, targeted outreach programs and translators during safety training, when appropriate.
  4. Gender-specific safety concerns: Acknowledge that men and women have differing safety concerns — and face different safety risks. More women than men were victims of workplace homicides in 2022, the report found. This shows the need to improve workplace violence prevention efforts, especially for female employees.
  5. Attention to age-related risks: Take into account the increased vulnerability of older workers. Depending on the nature of the work, this might involve ergonomic assessments, modified work duties or additional safety training tailored to the needs of aging employees. You may also need to revise your emergency response plan.
  6. Special consideration for younger workers: The Department of Labor (DOL) has repeatedly stressed that employers have a responsibility to keep younger workers safe as they enter the workforce. The DOL’s YouthRules website provides free resources for employers to educate younger workers about what they can – and can’t – do at work.

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