In a bit of good news for workers in Maryland and across the country, the number of workers across the United States who die after being hurt on the job has fallen steadily during the past decade, largely due to employers, industry groups and workers having committed to a safer workplace, an expert said.
In 2011, workplace fatalities totaled 4,609, down from 2010’s 4,690 reported deaths. In 2001, 5,915 people died due to job-related accidents, 22 percent more than last year. In 1994, more than 6,600 workers died from job accidents.
Driving on the job led to the most work-related deaths — 25 percent in all. Of those, 759 were truck drivers, who died in greater numbers than people in other jobs. Rules regarding how many hours a day and per week a driver can be on the road were strengthened last year by the Department of Transportation in an effort to reduce fatalities among truckers.
The most dangerous job last year was being a fisherman. Although only 40 individuals died, their rate of mortality was more than 121 deaths for every 100,000 workers. That is five times more than the rate of other workers. Like other industries, fishing has focused on job safety and teaching fishermen how to survive an accident. Just six years ago, fishermen died at a rate of 142 per 100,000 workers, statistics show.
Workplace violence also contributed to the death total, with 788 workers dying at the job, either as a result of a robbery or bickering with a co-worker in an act of domestic violence.
It is possible that the numbers of workplace-related fatalities could rise since the figures furnished by the Labor Department are preliminary. Still, it is good to see that the number of workers perishing at work has dropped steadily through the years and that employers are making an effort to provide a safer environment. Employees deserve to go to work in conditions that are as safe as possible.