The Inequality of Safety Factors in the Workplace

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than 3 million people were injured and 4,405 were killed on the job in 2013. While the numbers are high, they don’t tell the whole story, because there are some industries that have a significantly higher ratio of injuries and deaths than others. For example, almost 2.1 million of the on-the-job injuries occurred in service industries, which employ more than 82 percent of the United States workforce. The term ‘service industry’ is fairly broad, so here are two specific industries that have the highest number of reported injuries and fatalities, and two that have some of the lowest.

Trade, Transportation and Utilities

A natural inclination for many is to believe that police officers and firefighters must suffer the most injuries and fatalities. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,153 deaths reported in the trade, transportation and utilities sectors in 2013. That figure represents more than one quarter of all fatalities. Transportation incidents accounted for 665 of those deaths. There were also 3.8 injuries reported for every 100 full-time employees.


Just as with the trade, transportation and utilities industries, there were 3.8 injuries reported for every 100 full-time employees in the construction sector. Also, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 20.3%, or 1 in 5, of all work-related fatalities happened on construction sites in 2013. Falls, electrocution, becoming caught in or between objects, and blunt force trauma from object impact were the leading causes of those deaths. Of those reasons, falls were responsible for 294 of the 796 construction deaths. It is estimated that, if those “Fatal Four” factors were eliminated, an average of 468 lives would be saved every year.


Careers in publishing, broadcasting and motion pictures proved to be among the safest in 2013. The BLS recorded 39 fatalities in all, with 17 of them being transportation related and 10 being attributed to falls. Injuries were reported at a rate of 1.5 for every 100 full-time employees in the information industry.


The finance insurance industry, which includes banking, insurance and real estate, accounted for 84 on-the-job fatalities in 2013, making it one of the safest areas of employment in the country. A total of 36 people were killed as a result of injuries sustained by an animal or person, and there were 23 transportation related fatalities. The number of injuries reported totaled 1.3 out of every 100 full-time employees.

Comparing the Numbers

When comparing injuries and fatalities between industries, it is clear that the nature of some work makes it more hazardous than others. For example, the environment in which construction and warehouse workers must navigate is infinitely more dangerous than that of those who work in an office building. They must contend with heights, heavy and dangerous equipment, and the inherent danger of road travel. In contrast, those who work in office environments generally do not have to worry about any of those hazards, with the exception of traveling between locations. In fact, 1,740 people died as a result of a work-related transportation accident in 2013, making it the number one cause of on-the-job deaths.

Regardless of the industry, for the millions of people who are injured on the job every year, there is a fear that they will no longer be able to support themselves and their families. That is especially true if the employee suffers an injury or illness that prevents him from returning to work. Fortunately, Social Security Disability (SSD) is available for those who qualify. Most people would prefer to continue working, but whether it’s a low risk or a high risk job, it is comforting to know there is relief available when a debilitating injury prevents you from continuing in your profession.

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