Despite the implementation of safety measures and oversight of agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, thousands of Americans suffer injuries on the job every year.
Private industry employers reported almost 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2012. This adds up to approximately 3.4 cases per 100 full-time workers, or an incidence rate of more than 3 percent. More than half of the 3 million injury and illness cases involved days away from work, job transfer, or job restriction.
The vast majority—94.8 percent—of these cases were nonfatal occupational injuries (rather than job-acquired illnesses).
Each occupational field carries different dangers and risks, and some jobs turn out to be more dangerous than others. In terms of nonfatal injuries and illnesses, these workplaces had the highest incidence rates in 2012:
- Nursing and residential care facilities: 13.6 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Mobile home manufacturing: 11.8 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Police protection: 11.8 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Travel trailer and camper manufacturing: 11.7 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Iron foundries: 11.5 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Fire protection: 11.2 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Truck trailer manufacturing: 10.7 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Truss manufacturing: 10.4 injuries per 100 full-time workers
- Heavy and civil engineering construction: 10.3 injuries per 100 full-time workers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4,600 Americans died in 2012 as a result of work-related injuries. That adds up to approximately 3.4 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time workers (down slightly from the 2011 rate of 3.5 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time workers). Fatal on-the-job injuries occurred at a rate of 89 per week—or 12 per day—in 2012.
There were 715 contractors fatally injured on the job in 2012. There were 1,153 roadway workers killed in 2012, representing an increase of 5 percent from the previous year. More than 800 private construction workers were killed in 2012, an increase of 9 percent over the 2011 total; this year represented the first increase in private construction fatal injuries since 2006.
Hispanic workers are more likely to be fatally injured on the job, with a fatal injury occurring in 3.7 per 100,000 full-time workers. Nearly 750 Hispanic workers were killed on the job in 2012, adding up to approximately 14 deaths per week or two deaths per day all year long.
Constructions workers represent 19.3 percent—or 806 deaths—of the total. The “Fatal Four” causes of death on construction sites were responsible for 54 percent of all construction worker deaths in 2012. Clearly, the “Fatal Four” continue to present a major safety hazard for construction workers:
- Falls accounted for 279 total deaths, or 34.6 percent of construction deaths
- Being struck by an object accounted for 79 deaths, or 9.8 percent of construction deaths
- Electrocutions accounted for 66 deaths, or 8.1 percent of construction deaths
- Being caught in or caught between heavy objects accounted for 13 deaths, or 1.6 percent of construction deaths