Fatal occupational injuries in Connecticut rose 25% in 2017, increasing from 28 to 35, while the nation overall saw a slight decline.

From 2016 to 2017, the rate of work-related deaths in Connecticut jumped from 1.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers to 1.9.

The increase reverses the sharp decline from 44 to 28 fatalities from 2015 to 2016.

The 35 occupational fatalities in the state in 2017 were the result of transportation incidents (14); violence or other injuries by person or animals (8); exposure to harmful substances or environments (5); falls, slips, trips (4); and contact with objects and equipment (3). The cause of the remaining fatality was not identified.

According to the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2017 released Dec. 18, 2018, by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,147 fatal work injuries nationwide in 2017, a drop of 43 deaths from the 5,190 reported in 2016.

Although OSHA touted the decline in a Dec. 18 statement, the National Safety Council noted the number of unintentional, preventable occupational fatalities actually rose in 2017 to 4,414 from 4,398 the previous year.

Deadly Incidents

According to the CFOI, fatal falls were at their highest level in the 26-year history of the BLS report, accounting for 887 (17%) worker deaths.

Incidents related to transportation, however, remained the most frequent deadly work event in 2017, accounting for 2,077 (40%) of occupational fatalities.

Reflecting a disturbing nationwide trend, the number of unintentional, fatal overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased 25% from 217 in 2016 to 272 last year—the fifth consecutive year in which unintentional workplace overdose deaths increased by at least 25%.

In addition, fatal occupational injuries involving confined spaces jumped 15% to 166 in 2017 from 144 the previous year.

On a more positive note, crane-related workplace fatalities fell to their lowest level ever recorded in the CFOI—33 deaths in 2017—and fatal contact with objects and equipment incidents declined 9% to 695 in 2017 from 761 in 2016.

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