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How are you most likely to die at work? Which jobs and industries cause the most deaths?

While some industries are obviously more dangerous than others, it is often the case that some of the more mundane aspects of a work environment can also represent the greatest hazard. Sometimes, this is the result of familiarity causing workers to become too comfortable in a situation that poses a risk to their health and safety.

Annual rates of fatal occupational injuries
Annual rates of fatal occupational injuries by leading cause, 1980-19981.

From examining this NIOSH chart of the rate of fatal occupational injuries, it is clear that accidents involving vehicles are far and away the greatest risk faced by any employee across all industries. Given that motor vehicles have a wide number of applications and that most people are so used to their presence that they easily fade into the background in terms of awareness, it is not surprising that they present such a threat. What is unexpected is the role homicide plays in workplace fatalities, bringing up the number two spot.

Distribution and number of fatal occupational injuries
Distribution and number of fatal occupational injuries by occupation, 20022.

Tying into the top two non-homicide related causes of fatal occupational industries are the relatively high percentage of deaths found in sectors of the economy which make extensive use of machinery and vehicles. This includes factory work, fabrication and repair work, construction and agriculture.

Distribution and number of fatal occupational injuries
Distribution and number of fatal occupational injuries by private industry sector, 20023.

When taken together, construction and transportation, both of which are heavily dependent upon the operation of motor vehicles and other types of dangerous equipment lead the way in terms of fatal on the job injuries.

Distribution and number of fatal occupational injuries
Distribution and number of fatal occupational injuries by event or exposure, 20024.

Even when compared to events like fires or environments which can have a negative effect on worker health both of which potentially affect a larger group of employees in terms of single incident exposure transportation and equipment-related injuries lead the way, with assault coming in close behind.

If you work in an industry where machinery and motorized vehicles are a part of your daily routine, it is important to remain alert and follow proper safety procedures at all times in order to avoid falling victim to either of these frequent life-takers. If you have lost a loved one at work as a result of an employer not taking the necessary steps to protect the lives of workers, then you should seek immediate counsel in order to bring the company in question to justice5 and prevent others from suffering the same tragedy.

1NIOSH 2004. Worker Health Chartbook 2004, NIOSH Publication No. 2004-146. Retrieved October 27, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2004-146/detail/imagedetail.asp@imgid65.htm
2NIOSH 2004. Worker Health Chartbook 2004, NIOSH Publication No. 2004-146. Retrieved October 27, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2004-146/detail/imagedetail.asp@imgid66.htm
3NIOSH 2004. Worker Health Chartbook 2004, NIOSH Publication No. 2004-146. Retrieved October 27, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2004-146/detail/imagedetail.asp@imgid67.htm
4NIOSH 2004. Worker Health Chartbook 2004, NIOSH Publication No. 2004-146. Retrieved October 27, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2004-146/detail/imagedetail.asp@imgid68.htm
5Anapol Schwartz, n.d.. Wrongful death: Who is responsible? Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://www.anapolschwartz.com/practices/wrongful-death/

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