Fatal workplace accidents can and do happen. While employers may aim to create a safe environment for their employees, hazardous moments can happen anywhere and create deadly scenarios. Across the U.S., the number of fatal workplace injuries increased by 7 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Educational website Injury Claim Coach wanted to know which states had the most accidents, which employees were most in danger, and which U.S. jobs were considered the deadliest.
With more than 118 fatal injuries for every 1 million working people, Wyoming was the most lethal state in 2016. In fact, the number of people who died as a result of work accidents in Wyoming was more than seven times higher than the least dangerous state, Connecticut. An increase from 2015, 38 percent of those deaths represented workers over the age of 55.
Other states with the greatest number of fatal workplace injuries included Alaska ( 98 deaths per 1 million working people), Montana (75.4), and North Dakota (68.7). Rhode Island (17.2), California (20.5), and Washington (22.3) followed behind Connecticut as the states with the least number of fatal occupational hazards.
Not all workplace conditions are created equal, and some industries are far more deadly than others. Across the country, the leading cause of workplace fatalities in each state was led by one of five occupations: management, business, science, and arts; military; natural resources, construction, and maintenance; production, transportation, and material moving; and service (such as healthcare support, protective services, food preparation and serving).
Overwhelmingly, natural resources and construction jobs, as well as production and transportation jobs, resulted in the most workplace deaths in many states. Research showed falls accounted for roughly half of all construction-related fatalities between 1982 and 2015. In many cases, employees who died on the job lacked access to proper fall protection. Twenty percent of those deaths also occurred during the victims’ first two months on the job.
According to our analysis, states like Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana had the highest rate of fatalities related to construction or maintenance.
In states like North Dakota, Alabama, and Mississippi, the leading occupations involved in workplace fatalities were production, transportation, and material moving. In 2016, 2 in 5 workplace deaths involved moving things or vehicles, resulting in over 2,000 fatalities – more than any other category in consideration.
If transportation and production jobs are the most dangerous occupations in the country, Alaska is certainly the most deadly state to be employed by these industries. With more than 67 deaths per 1 million working people, no state had more transportation incidents than Alaska in 2016.With more than twice as many fatalities as any other state, wet roads in Alaska represent some of the most dangerous driving conditions anywhere in America.
Wyoming, which led the country for the highest rate of workplace fatalities, was dominated by violence and other injuries by people or animals, totaling nearly 21 deaths per 1 million working people in 2016. Across the U.S., the number of people dying at work as a result of violence increased by 23 percent and accounted for 866 deaths in 2016.
The total number of deaths for falls and slips, as well as for fires and explosions, were the highest in South Dakota, while West Virginia led the way for the highest number of fatalities due to exposure to harmful substances or environments.
With more than a quarter-million construction sites across the country at any given time, nearly 6.5 million people are employed in construction. As the number of construction-related jobs increases, so do the dangers of working on these sites. In 2015, 937 construction workers died on the job, the highest rate of fatalities since 2008.
According to our research, construction was responsible for the highest percentage of workplace deaths attributed to slips and falls, exposure to harmful substances, contact with objects and equipment, and fire and explosions in 2016. Experts say the likelihood of firms hiring young or inexperienced employees to work at these potentially dangerous sites also grows.
People working in transportation and material moving were the more likely to die in an accident related to moving objects (including vehicles), while nearly 1 in 4 workplace fatalities were linked to sales or related occupations.
Considered among the most deadly and dangerous jobs in the U.S., truck transportation accounted for 570 workplace fatalities in 2016. In recent years, the number of truck driver fatalities has increased, rising to over 11 percent between 2011 and 2015.
Unlike consumer vehicles, the trucks used in the transportation of goods aren’t required to have airbags, creating a serious safety concern for new drivers and veterans alike. While advancements in technology and increases in educational programs and requirements for drivers may help reduce the risk, tired and distracted driving also contributes to the rising number of deaths in this field.
While one might not expect management or administrative jobs to be dangerous, 440 people were killed at jobs like these in 2016. The number of deaths attributed to workplace homicides continues to rise as well, largely linked to gun violence and shootings. In 2015, 354 people died as a result of gun violence at work, a 15 percent increase over 2014.
This story was submitted by Injury Claim Coach, an educational website with expert attorney contributors. Injury Claim used data from OSHA, U.S. News, investors.com, Science Daily, Trucking Info, Statesman Journal, and more to compile this report. Check it out in its entirety here.