WORK-RELATED fatalities in the agriculture industry fell in 2013, marking a third consecutive year of decline, according to the recently released "Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries" preliminary results from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The downward cycle in the agriculture sector was in concert with the overall reduction in total fatal work injuries in the U.S. last year, which dropped to 4,405 from 4,628 in 2012.
In addition, the rate of fatal injuries for U.S. workers in 2013 was 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, compared to 3.4 per 100,000 FTE in 2012.
In 2013, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector's total fatalities were 6% lower, at 479 versus 509 in 2012.
Despite the decline in total fatalities, though, the sector still holds the record for the highest fatal work injury rate, at 22.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE (Figure).
Breaking it down further, fatal injuries in the crop production, animal production, fishing, hunting and trapping industries declined in 2013, while fatal occupational injuries for forestry and logging climbed.
Of the sector's total, crop production accounted for 210 occupational fatalities, and animal production accounted for 129.
Although the construction industry had the leading number of work-related fatalities, at 796, its fatal work injury rate ranked third behind the agriculture and transportation industries.
By type of incident
In the U.S., transportation-related incidents accounted for about two out of every five fatal work injuries last year, and three out of every five of the 1,740 transportation-related injuries were roadway incidents involving motorized vehicles.
Fatal falls, slips or trips took the lives of 699 U.S. workers in 2013. Additionally, 717 occupational deaths occurred as a result of contact with objects and equipment.
Furthermore, fatal injuries on the job involving fire and explosion jumped in 2013 to 148 fatalities, compared to 122 in 2012.
Across major racial/ethnic groups, fatal work injury totals were lower except for Hispanic or Latino workers. The number of fatal injuries was 6% lower for non-Hispanic white workers, 15% lower among African-American workers and 22% lower among non-Hispanic Asian workers.
On the flipside, work-related deaths among Hispanic or Latino workers were 7% higher, at 797 in 2013 versus 748 in 2012. What's more, the fatal injury rate of 3.8 per 100,000 FTE for Hispanic or Latino workers surpassed the national rate of 3.2 per 100,000 FTE.
There were 845 fatal work injuries involving foreign-born workers in 2013, with the greatest share born in Mexico.
On the bright side, occupational deaths of workers under age 16 reached the lowest annual total since 1992, with five deaths in 2013 compared to 19 in 2012.
There were 4,101 fatal work injuries among men in 2013 compared to 4,277 in 2012, and fatal injuries among women dropped 14% to 302 last year from 351 in 2012.
Following the release of these preliminary results, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule requiring employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.
The rule, which also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.
Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or eye loss within 24 hours. Previously, regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees, while single hospitalizations, amputations or eye loss were not required to be reported.
Furthermore, all employers covered by the Occupational Safety & Health Act, even those exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, now must comply with OSHA's new severe injury and illness reporting requirements. A web portal for reporting is being developed for employers to fulfill the requirements.
OSHA has updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records.
The new rule still maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.