Thirty-four work-related deaths were recorded in Idaho in 2014 with 18 occurring during transportation incidents. Nationally, workplace fatalities increased by 2 percent from 4,585 to 4,679.
Transportation incidents were the leading cause of workplace deaths in Idaho over the past 10 years – ranging from 42 percent in 2005 to 70 percent in 2011. Half of the transportation accidents occurred in the agriculture sector. Contact with objects and equipment – typically farm implements – was responsible for six Idaho deaths in 2014.
Three fatalities in 2014 were due to falls occurring in construction occupations. Another three fatalities were acts of violence, the first since 2008. The cause of four deaths could not be disclosed due to confidentiality restrictions.
Idaho followed the national trend with the most transportation-related deaths on highways. (See Figure 1.) Nationally, roadway incidents accounted for 30 percent of the fatal transportation work injuries. In Idaho the rate was higher with slightly over half.
Idaho was one of 24 states where workplace deaths rose in 2014 from 2013. Fatalities decreased in 23 states and remained unchanged in four. The largest increase was 35 in Ohio, and the largest decrease was 62 in California. Idaho ranked seventh in fatality increases at seven. The nation was up slightly, 2 percent.
The percentage change among the states can be distorted because the actual totals are so small. Workplace fatalities are typically measured in deaths per every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers to adjust for varying populations. Fatal injury rates, based on Current Population Survey data, show the risk of a fatal occupational injury. The most current data available is for 2013. The 2014 fatality rates will not be released until mid-2016 when 2014 data is finalized. In 2013, Idaho had a rate of 4.3 deaths per 100,000 workers compared with a national rate of 3.3. Idaho’s increase from 2.7 deaths in 2012 was the fourth largest change among the states.
Due to the industrial nature of North Dakota’s economy, the state had the highest rate in the nation at 14.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Table 1 shows how Idaho’s workplace death rates in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 compared with other states and the nation. Figure 2 shows that over the past six years the rate of workplace deaths has been fairly flat nationally. At the same time, Idaho has experienced ups and downs, reflecting the comparatively small number of workplace deaths in any year, but the general trend has been downward.
Thirty-one of the fatalities were in private industry and the remaining three were government workers. The majority of the fatalities were wage and salary workers, 25, and nine were self-employed. Ninety percent of the fatalities occurred in a specific industry. Three deaths were self-employed individuals. By industry, 75 percent of Idaho’s workplace deaths in 2014 were in transportation and agriculture. Table 2 shows the breakdown of workplace deaths by industry for the past six years. The data clearly shows that the agriculture and trade, transportation and utilities industries experience the most deaths.
By occupation, workplace deaths occurred primarily in three areas – nine in transportation and material moving, eight in construction and maintenance and six in farming, fishing and forestry. Seven of the fatalities in transportation were heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. The construction occupations were split between supervisors and trade workers. The majority of the farming fatalities were agriculture workers.
All fatalities in Idaho were men compared to 92 percent nationwide. Men are more likely to work in the agriculture and transportation industries.
Nearly eighty percent of Idaho’s workers were white – reflecting the state’s high white population. Nationally, 68 percent of workplace fatalities were white. The percent of Hispanic fatalities in Idaho was about the same as the nation – 15 percent in Idaho and 17 percent in the United States.
Idaho workers between 25 and 54 years old — the prime working years — accounted for 53 percent of the work-related deaths in 2014, and 35 percent occurred among workers aged 55 and older. Nationally, workers aged 24 to 54 accounted for 58 percent of workplace deaths. However, 35 percent of workplace deaths involved older workers. The largest group in both Idaho and the nation was 45 to 54 years old accounting for nearly one-fourth of all fatalities.
In previous years the number of fatalities in Idaho ranged from a low of 19 in 2012 to a high of 43 in 2003. Although the number of fatalities in 2014 was higher than 2012, the change over the past several years does not suggest a consistent long-term upward trend.
About the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began conducting annual surveys in 1972 to estimate the number of workplace injuries and illnesses in private industry and the frequency of those incidents. Subsequently analyses showed traumatic occupational fatalities were under-reported, and widely varying estimates raised concern about using a sampled survey to estimate deaths. In response to these concerns, the bureau began annually collecting additional data through the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program on the more seriously injured or ill workers. In 1992, the agency began reporting the number of workplace fatal injuries from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
To compile counts that are as complete as possible, the census uses multiple sources to identify, verify and profile fatal worker injuries. Information about each workplace fatal injury—occupation and other worker characteristics, equipment involved and circumstances of the event—is obtained by cross-referencing the source records such as death certificates, workers’ compensation reports and federal and state agency administrative reports. To ensure that fatal injuries are work related, cases are substantiated with two or more independent source documents or a source document and a follow-up questionnaire.
Data compiled by the program are issued annually for the preceding calendar year. These data are used by safety and health policy analysts and researchers to help prevent fatal work injuries by:
- Informing workers of life-threatening hazards associated with various jobs;
- Promoting safer work practices through enhanced job safety training;
- Assessing and improving workplace safety standards; and
- Identifying new areas of safety research.
The National Safety Council adopted the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries figure beginning with the 1992 data year as the authoritative count for work-related deaths in the United States.