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Industry Trends

Risk Management Response to Top Workplace Fatality Trends

The latest BLS report indicates statistics related to work-related deaths. We take a look at the analytics they offer from the three of the top fatality trends – transportation incidents, workplace violence, slips, trips, and falls – to offer risk management solutions that may help mitigate those risks.

May 5, 2023

Nearly every workplace has some exposures to many of the leading causes of workplace fatality identified in the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and sadly, many of these risks remain at the top of the list year after year.

“This data, and the fact that certain risks have not budged from the top of the list each year, is incredible intel for risk managers as they create and enhance their annual risk control plans,” said Don Enke, Vice President of Risk Services at Safety National. “Now that the top risks have been identified, it is time to make sure they are addressed in the organization’s safety training and, if already addressed, reviewed and updated annually.”

We take a look at three of the top trends and offer potential risk management solutions to address these risks.

TREND: Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event in 2021 with 1,982 fatal injuries, an increase of 11.5 percent from 2020. This major category accounted for 38.2 percent of all work-related fatalities for 2021.

Roadway incidents have been a chief source of occupational fatalities for over 20 years and counting. A strong approach to establishing proper fleet safety practices is essential to any workplace that has employees who drive as part of their job. Here are some key elements to include in an effective fleet safety program:

  1. Good Hiring Practices – Pursuant to an appropriate internal background check policy and procedures, ensure you are hiring qualified individuals by running a pre-hire motor vehicle record (MVR) for all employees that will be responsible for operating a company automobile.
  2. Regular Driver Checks – Following the appropriate internal background check policies, check employees’ motor vehicle records (MVRs) regularly for additional violations. Significant or repeated infractions may indicate a lack of training or a poor attitude toward driving.
  3. Defined Criteria – Establish criteria for MVR results. Employees will be motivated to drive more responsibly when they understand they can lose their driving privileges and/or job due to certain violations.
  4. Formal Program – Create a program that details driver selection, responsibilities, policies, procedures, and maintenance. Tie it to your overall safety program and communicate it to employees.

TREND: Work-related fatalities due to falls, slips, and trips increased 5.6 percent in 2021, from 805 fatalities in 2020 to 850 in 2021.

Construction and extraction occupations still account for a large portion of work-related fatalities due to slips, trips, and falls, but no industry is immune from these types of incidents. Sadly, most of these incidents are preventable. Simple techniques like ladder safety, assessing for hazards before starting a job, and proper training can prevent these occurrences.

There are new prevention technologies that are proving to be beneficial in this area. This tech includes companies’ ability to record accident details, determine hazards, and possibly incorporate corrective actions to prevent someone from slipping and falling. Some of the newest available technology includes:

  • New audit and self-inspection software that helps conduct accident inspections using applications and quick response (QR) barcodes to track corrective actions.
  • Sensor-based location beacons that work with smartphone and tablet-based applications, as well as cloud-based software that can monitor some safety aspects of a given premise.

Fatalities due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased to 761 fatalities in 2021 from 705 fatalities in 2020 (7.9 percent). The largest subcategory, intentional injuries by person, increased 10.3 percent to 718 in 2021.

Workplace violence has been an emerging trend in recent years. Best practices and considerations to include when analyzing a workplace violence program’s strengths and weaknesses include:

  • Worksite analysis and hazard identification of high-risk areas. A step-by-step assessment should be conducted involving a team that consists of managers, supervisors, and employees.
  • Hazard prevention and control. Following the worksite analysis, take appropriate steps to control identified hazards.
  • Staff training and education. Focus on reiterating written policies, procedures and training such as de-escalation and self-defense.
  • Job hazard analysis. Identify hazards and their likelihood to occur with a focus on procedures and operations connected to specific positions.
  • Recordkeeping and program evaluation. This is important in identifying trends and patterns of assaults that could be prevented or reduced through appropriate risk control measures. Consistent evaluation is necessary to determine the effectiveness of programs.
  • Pre-employment background screening. A thorough check can pull criminal court records, driving records and more that can identify red flags in an applicant.

Despite the type of risk, executive and management buy-in is the cornerstone of every successful risk control program. Creating a culture of safety through promotion and enforcement starts at the top.


For more expertise, guidance or resources on this topic, please contact: [email protected].