Truck Drivers, Delivery Workers Incurred Highest Number of Fatalities in 2016

Total Deaths Among All Workers Jumped 7% Over 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports
BLS report covers 2016
Truck driving remained one of the most dangerous occupations in 2016, BLS statistics show. (Truck PR)

Delivery workers and truck operators incurred the greatest number of fatal workplace injuries in 2016, according to a December report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report, titled the “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries,” outlines the number and causes of fatal injuries that occurred across various lines of work.

The bureau found that were 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2016, a 7% increase from the number of fatal injuries reported in 2015. Some 918 of these fatalities occurred amongst sales workers and truck drivers. This figure topples the 260 fatalities that occurred among farmers and agricultural managers, which was next-highest number of fatal workplace injuries.

The leading cause of fatal injuries among tractor-trailer operators was transportation incidents, which refer to collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians and objects.

“Work injuries involving transportation incidents remained the most common fatal event in 2016, accounting for 40%,” the bureau states in its report summary.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Large Truck Crash Causation Study, the most comprehensive and most recent drill-down into federal crash data, concluded that 88% of all crashes were caused by human error. Of those, 56% were attributed to passenger car drivers while fewer, 44%, were attributed to commercial vehicle operators.

BLS also found that fatal work injuries from falls, slips or trips continued a general upward trend, increasing 6% to 849 in 2016 and 25% overall since 2011. Falls increased more than 25% in 2016 for roofers, carpenters, tree trimmers and heavy truck drivers. Other causes of fatalities included violence by persons or animals and contact with equipment.

The report reflects the third consecutive increase in annual workplace fatalities. It also marks the first time more than 5,000 fatalities have been recorded by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries since 2008.

A disproportionate amount of fatal work injuries involved men relative to hours worked. Only 7% of the 5,190 fatal injuries involved women. The bureau found that men had a fatal work injury rate of 5.8 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, while the rate for women was 0.6.