While you head off to work this morning, be warned — you might be at risk of something worse than just a bad day. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this week put out a summary of job-related deaths, and Iowa’s apparently hit an all-time high. Paul LaPorte is an economist with the Bureau and explains their most recent complete numbers are for the year 2004. He says there were 82 fatal work injuries in Iowa, up by half-a-dozen from the year before and even higher than the high so far, 80 job fatalities recorded in 1999.
LaPorte says the most frequent “fatal events” in 2004 were falls that caused 14 deaths, highway crashes blamed for 13, non-highway transportation incidents like farm and industrial accidents that caused 13 on-the-job deaths, and being struck by objects, which caused 11 worker deaths.
Nationally, a major cause of death on the job is murder — but LaPorte says Iowa has a very low rate of violent deaths in the workplace. In 2004 there were 5 fatalities as the result of an assault or violent attack, and that category includes not only homicide but self-inflicted wounds, and even animal bites or attacks. The most common age of workers who died on duty was between 25 and 54 years of age — they made up 62-percent of the state’s worker fatalities.
And some occupations are just more dangerous than others. He says farm and ranch managers suffered the most work-related deaths at 22, and drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers suffered 12 on-the-job deaths. The report notes that while state labor agencies and OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have jurisdiction over many employment areas, some are not covered including work on small farms and people who are self-employed.