Fewer Workplace Deaths in Idaho in 2016

Thirty work-related deaths were recorded in Idaho in 2016, down from 36 in 2015, while nationally there was an increase of 7.3 percent from 4,836 in 2015 to 5,190 in 2016.

Over the past 14 years, the leading cause of deaths in the workplace occurred in the transportation industry and transportation-related incidents in either agricultural and forestry industries. The second leading cause involves contact with objects and equipment and exposure to toxic substances. Less frequently, deaths results from violence in the workplace (Chart 1).

In Idaho, 60 percent of workplace deaths were caused by transportation accidents in 2016 compared with only 40 percent nationally overall. The pie charts (Figure 1) describe in detail fatalities occurring while working in transportation-related activities.

Idaho was one of 14 states where workplace deaths decreased in 2016 from 2015. Fatalities increased in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The largest increase was 47 in South Carolina and the largest decrease was 38 in Ohio.

Workplace death rates are based on Current Population Survey data and are typically measured in deaths per every 100,000 workers. During 2016, Idaho experienced a rate of 4.1 deaths per 100,000 workers, slightly higher than the national rate of 3.6. Wyoming leads states with the highest fatality rate at 12.3 per 100,000 workers while Rhode Island and the District of Columbia had the lowest at less than two per 100,000 workers (Table 1).

Chart 2 depicts the ratio of fatalities between self-employed workers and those with wages or salaries. Of all fatalities in the workplace, self-employed individuals experienced about 27 percent. This share is almost four times the relative proportion – 7.5 percent – of the self-employed participating in the labor force.

By occupation, workplace deaths in Idaho in 2016 occurred primarily in two areas – nine in transportation and material moving and eight in construction and extraction. (Table 2)

By gender, 27 or 90 percent of Idaho’s fatalities were men compared with 93 percent nationwide as more men work in construction and extraction occupations. By race, about 80 percent were white while 20 percent were of Hispanic origin. Idaho workers between 25 and 54 years old accounted for 52 percent of the work-related deaths in 2016 and 48 percent occurred among workers older than 54. In 2016, there were no job-related deaths for workers younger than 25 years old.

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 analysis showed traumatic occupational fatalities were underreported, 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.

Janell Hyer, research analyst supervisor