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December 19, 2018

A total of 101 fatal work-injuries were recorded in Minnesota in 2017, an increase from the 92 fatal work-injuries in 2016 and 74 fatal work-injuries in 2015. This is the highest total number of fatal work-related injuries since 1993, and the third-highest total since the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) was implemented in 1992. This is the third year in a row that the number of fatal work-injuries in Minnesota has increased. Minnesota’s 2017 fatal-injury rate is 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers; the 2016 rate was 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers. These and other workplace fatality statistics come from the CFOI, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Nationally, there were 5,147 fatally injured workers in 2017, down slightly from the 2016 count of 5,190 workers. The 2017 national rate is 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers, a decrease from 3.6 in 2016.

The CFOI also provided the following statistics for Minnesota’s workplace fatalities during 2017.

Industries

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting recorded the highest number of worker fatalities, with 23 cases, the same number as in 2016. The fatal-injury rate in 2017 for this industry sector is 28.2 fatalities per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers.

  • Retail trade had the second-highest number of fatalities, with 14 cases, compared to five cases in 2016.

  • Construction saw a decrease from 15 fatalities in 2016 to 11 in 2017, which resulted in its fatal-injury rate decreasing from 9.0 fatalities per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers in 2016 to 5.7 in 2017.

Occupations

  • The occupation group of farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers had the highest number of fatalities in 2017 at 15. The second-highest occupation was driver/sales workers and truck drivers, with 10 fatalities in 2017.

Types of incidents

  • Transportation incidents accounted for 46 fatalities, the most for any incident type, which equaled the number of transportation incidents in 2016 and was up from 31 transportation-related incidents in 2015. Twenty-one transportation fatalities occurred during roadway incidents involving one or more motorized land vehicles, 11 involved non-roadway incidents and seven involved pedestrian-vehicle incidents. Transportation incidents were spread across many types of industries. Twelve of these fatal transportation events occurred in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry sector, eight in retail trade and six in the construction industry. Thirteen transportation events in 2017 involved freight hauling and utility trucks, the same as in 2016.

  • Contact with objects and equipment was the second most-frequent fatal work-related injury event in 2017, with 16 fatalities. There were 10 fatalities caused by contact with objects and equipment in 2016.

  • Fourteen work-related fatalities in 2017 were due to falls, up from 11 fatalities due to falls in 2016.

  • There were 14 fatalities resulting from violence or intentional injury by persons or animals in 2017, compared to 10 such fatalities in 2016 and seven fatalities in 2015. In 2017 there were six work-related suicides, the same number as there was in 2016.

Worker characteristics

  • Men accounted for 89 of the 101 fatally injured workers in 2017. There were 12 fatally injured female workers, up from eight in 2016 but still lower than the 2015 count of 14, the highest annual CFOI count in Minnesota since the inception of the program. Twelve of the 14 fatally injured women in 2017 were involved in violent or transportation incidents.

  • Workers age 55 and older accounted for 56 fatalities, with 27 of these fatalities occurring due to transportation incidents.

  • Fatal work-related injuries among wage and salary workers increased from 58 in 2016 to 66 in 2017; self-employed workers accounted for 35 fatalities in 2017, compared with 34 in 2016. Self-employed workers accounted for 17 of the 23 fatalities in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry.

Minnesota OSHA fatality investigations

Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) workplace fatality investigation statistics differ from CFOI. MNOSHA Compliance investigates all employee deaths under its jurisdiction that result from an accident or illness caused by or related to a workplace hazard. In federal-fiscal-year 2017 (October 2016 through September 2017), MNOSHA Compliance investigated 17 workplace fatalities (see www.dli.mn.gov/business/workplace-safety-and-health/mnosha-compliance-fatalities-investigated). The CFOI numbers include Minnesota workplace fatalities caused by traffic accidents, airplane crashes, mining accidents, farm accidents and accidents to the self-employed, federal workers and railroad workers, none of which are covered by MNOSHA enforcement.

CFOI program

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ occupational safety and health statistics program, provides the most complete count of fatal work-injuries available. Workplace fatalities due to illnesses are not included. 

The program uses diverse data sources to identify, verify and profile fatal work-injuries. Information about each workplace fatality (occupation and other worker characteristics, equipment being used and circumstances of the event) is obtained by cross-referencing source documents, such as death certificates, workers’ compensation records, and reports to federal and state agencies. This method assures counts are as complete and accurate as possible. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) collects the information about Minnesota’s workplace fatalities for the CFOI.

Minnesota 2017 CFOI tables are available at www.dli.mn.gov/our-areas-service/research-and-statistics/census-fatal-occupational-injuries-cfoi. Additional data may be available by calling DLI Research and Statistics at 651-284-5594. National data from the CFOI program is available at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.