Amid the opioid epidemic, 217 people died while at their jobs last year, a significant increase from the 165 accidental fatalities reported in 2015 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Drug and alcohol overdoses at work killed 32 percent more Americans in 2016 than they did in 2015, new government statistics revealed on Tuesday. Those deaths, however, account for only a small fraction of the more than 64,000 lives claimed by drug overdoses in the past year.
According to the new statistics, the 2016 workplace death rate was the highest its been since 2010. More than 200 Americans died of drug and alcohol overdoses in 2016, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
There were a total of 5,190 on-the-job deaths in 2016, the BLS reports.
In the private sector, this represented an overall increase of seven percent over 2015 fatal injuries, while nine percent more government employees died while at work.
The spike in overdose deaths, while alarming, is a continuation in a trend that the BLS traces back to 2012. According to the new report, these kind of deaths have gone up by at least 25 percent each year for the past four years.
A study of more than 10,000 workplace drug tests found that more employees were using while at work in 2017 than had been in the past 12 years.
However, while prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl have been fueling drug overdose rates throughout the US, the workplace drug-use study found there were fewer or stable rates of positive tests for these, while cocaine and other drugs continued to trend upward.
Overdoses still account for relatively few deadly workplace injuries. Other people, animals or vehicles remain the usual suspects for fatalities on the job. About 40 percent of deaths were caused by transportation accidents, which were again the most common cause of workplace death by a long shot.
Workplace suicides and homicides were both up significantly well. Suicide rates were the highest they have been since the bureau began logging annual statistics in 1992.
Like drug and alcohol overdoses, the tragically high on-the-job death rates echo those seen throughout the country, as suicide also hit its peak among the public at large in 2016.
For many industries, 2016 was the most fatal year on record. Logging, construction, fishing, landscape and ground work, driving, roofing, mechanic and farming industries all set records.
Deaths in the historically dangerous mining and oil and gas industries were down significantly, falling 26 and 10 percent, respectively. These improvements may reflect both shrinking markets for these industries and technological improvements that have made them safer.
Fatalities in the hospitality and leisure industry tracked the rates of drug and alcohol overdoses almost exactly.
Deaths for hospitality workers hit a record high, increasing 32 percent over the previous year, a surge driven by a 40 percent increase fatalities for restaurant and bar workers.