Safety Trends

Latino Workers Dying on the Job at Higher Rates

New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that workplace fatalities involving Latinos increased by 7 percent in 2013, while for other racial and ethnic groups, the rate has gone down.
By: | September 29, 2014

The 4,405 occupational fatalities last year represent a decrease from 2012’s figures. However, workplace deaths among Hispanic or Latino workers was the highest in five years.

The statistics come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual count of workplace fatalities. The numbers are preliminary and may be revised later.

The preliminary total of fatal work injuries in 2013 translates to a rate of 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers compared to a final rate of 3.4 in 2012. Several findings stand out from the overall positive results.

“The number of fatal work injuries among firefighters was considerably higher in 2013, rising from 18 in 2012 to 53 in 2013,” according to the BLS. “The large increase resulted from a few major incidents in which multiple fatalities were recorded, including the Yarnell Hill wildfires in Arizona which claimed the lives of 19 firefighters.”

The 797 occupational deaths among Hispanic or Latino workers represented an increase of 7 percent since 2012 and was the highest total since 2008. The number of fatalities among all other major racial/ethnic groups was lower.

In the private sector, there were 3,929 deaths last year — the lowest total since the census began in 1992. Self-employed workers saw 16 percent fewer fatalities in 2013 — 892 compared with 1,057 in 2012. That preliminary total also represents the lowest annual total since the series began in 2012.

However, the number increased for contractors, up to 734 from 715 in 2012. That group represented 17 percent of all occupational fatalities last year.

In terms of the ages of workers, fatalities decreased among workers younger than 16 — falling from 19 in 2012 to just 5 in 2013. Most other age groups also reported lower death rates with the exception of workers 25-34, which were higher.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia had more fatal injuries in 2013, 30 states had fewer, and three states saw no change between the two years.

The report included the additional findings:

Violence accounted for 1 out of every 6 fatalities, the second highest type of incident after transportation. Workplace homicides decreased by 16 percent while suicides were up 8 percent.

Transportation-related fatalities accounted for 1,740 of the deaths with most being roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles.

Falls, trips, and slips took 699 workers’ lives in 2013. The number was marginally lower than in 2012 but still represented 16 percent of the total.

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected].

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