According to an annual report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace deaths in the United States last year decreased overall, though some states and industries saw troubling increases. In particular, authorities are concerned about fatal accidents in the oil and gas industry, which reached a record high in 2012.
Last year, 4,383 workers died in accidents at their work sites, a significant decrease from 2011’s 4,693. While the national figures are a testament to most states making advances in workplace safety, they don’t tell the whole story. In Texas, 531 deaths occurred in 2012 compared with only 433 in 2011, a phenomenon that occurred in several other states.
Nationwide, oil and gas industries saw a substantial 23 percent jump in workplace fatalities to 138, an increase experts associate with the recent boom in natural gas extraction. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez called the deaths “unacceptable.”
“We can and must do better,” Perez said.
The construction industry, which typically sees numerous workplace fatalities each year, also got low marks for safety. 775 construction workers died in 2012, a five percent increase that came after a five-year period of safety gains. Construction accidents have a higher potential to be fatal because of the mechanical hazards present at work sites such as heavy machinery and electricity. Construction tallied the most fatalities in several states, including Texas and Wyoming.
In response to the poor safety ratings in the construction and oil and gas industries, the Occupational Safety Hazard Administration has created educational initiatives and plans to conduct oil and gas industry safety checks throughout the next year.
“No worker should lose their life for a paycheck,” Perez said.