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Workplace deaths fall slightly

Workplace fatalities are still too common. There were 5,147 deaths in workplace accidents in this country in 2017, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report issued last Dec.

The news was mixed. First, this was a slight drop from the 5,190 deaths reported for 2016. There were 4,674 deaths reported in private industry in 2017 which was a slight drop from the 4,693 fatalities in 2016. Federal, state and local governments also had a small decline from the 497 deaths in 2016 to 473 one year later. California had 376 workplace deaths reported in both 2016 and 2017.

Deadly falls reached the highest level in the 26 years of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. There were 887 reported in 2017 which accounted for 17 percent of all worker deaths. However, transportation-related accidents remained the most frequent cause of worker deaths with 2,077 fatalities constituting 40 percent of all occupational deaths.

Transportation and material moving workers had 47 percent which was the highest number of deaths in this country by occupation. However, police and sheriff patrol officers had a drop in deadly accidents from 108 in 2016 to 95 in 2017.

Also, fatal injuries attributed to violence fell by seven percent from 866 in 2016 to 807 in 2017. Specifically, homicides dropped by eight percent from 500 to 458 and suicides declined by five percent from 291 to 275.

Recently, fast food workers protested workplace violence. However, from 2016 to 2017, fatalities in the accommodation and food services occupations fell from 202 to 171.

One significant finding was the number of workers over 64-years-old who suffered fatal injuries. This group had 775 deaths that constituted 15 percent of all worker deaths in 2017 and exceeded the fatality rate for all other age groups. This rate was also the highest ever recorded for this age group which, by comparison, constituted eight percent of fatalities in 1992 when this data was first collected.

Injured workers and their families may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help gather evidence and pursue their rights to workers' compensation and other relief.

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