Final Count: Fatal Work Injuries in the United States 2012

collage of workplace danger and warning signsThe final count of fatal work injuries in the United States in 2012 was 4,628, up from the preliminary count of 4,383 reported in August 2013. The final 2012 total was the second-lowest annual total recorded since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992. The overall fatal work injury rate for the United States in 2012 was 3.4 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down slightly from the final rate of 3.5 reported for 2011. The final fatal work injury rate for 2012 is the lowest rate published by the program since the conversion to hours- based rates in 2006.

The final 2012 numbers reflect updates to the 2012 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) file made after the release of preliminary results in August 2013. Revisions and additions to the 2012 CFOI counts result from the identification of new cases and the revision of existing cases based on source documents received after the release of preliminary results. A table summarizing the results of the update process appears on the next page.

Among the changes resulting from the updates:

  • The total number of contractors fatally injured on the job in 2012 rose to 715 fatalities after updates were included. Contract workers accounted for over 15 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2012. For more information, see the table on contractor data.
  • Roadway incidents were higher by 109 cases (or 10 percent) from the preliminary count, increasing the total number of fatal work-related roadway incidents in 2012 to 1,153 cases. The final 2012 total represented a 5-percent increase over the final 2011 count.
  • The number of fatal work injuries involving Hispanic workers was higher by 40 fatalities after updates were added, bringing the total number of fatally injured Hispanic workers to 748. That total was about the same as the 2011 total (749), but the fatality rate for Hispanic workers declined to 3.7 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2012, down from 4.0 in 2011.
  • Work-related suicides increased by 24 cases to a total of 249 after updates were added. Workplace homicides were higher by 12 cases after the updates, raising the workplace homicide total in 2012 to 475 cases.
  • In the private transportation and warehousing sector, fatal injuries increased by 9 percent from the preliminary count, led by a net increase of 44 cases in the truck transportation sector.
  • A net increase of 31 fatal work injuries in the private construction sector led to a revised count of 806 for that sector. The 2012 total was an increase of 9 percent over the 2011 total and represented the first increase in fatal work injuries in private construction since 2006.
  • Overall, 36 States revised their counts upward as a result of the update process.

    CFOI has compiled an annual count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. since 1992 by using diverse data sources to identify, verify, and profile fatal work injuries. For more information, see Chapter 9 of the BLS Handbook of Methods. The revised data can be accessed using the following tools: Create Customized Tables (Multiple Screens), Create Customized Tables (Single Screen), and the Online Profiles System. The original August 2013 press release with the preliminary results can be found here: National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2012. Additional tables and charts can be found on the CFOI homepage and on the CFOI State page.

Continue reading Final Count: Fatal Work Injuries in the United States 2012

Innovation Improves Drowsy Driver Detection

wake up to the dangers of drowsy driving
A new way to detect when drivers are about to nod off behind the wheel has been developed. “Video-based systems that use cameras to detect when a car is drifting out of its lane are cumbersome and expensive. They don’t work well on snow-covered or curvy roads, in darkness or when lane markers are faded or missing. Our invention provides an inexpensive and user-friendly technology that overcomes these limitations and can help catch fatigue earlier, well before accidents are likely to happen,” said a developer of the device.

Researchers at Washington State University Spokane have developed a new way to detect when drivers are about to nod off behind the wheel.

Their recently patented technology is based on steering wheel movements — which are more variable in drowsy drivers — and offers an affordable and more reliable alternative to currently available video-based driver drowsiness detection systems.

“Video-based systems that use cameras to detect when a car is drifting out of its lane are cumbersome and expensive,” said Hans Van Dongen, research professor at the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center. “They don’t work well on snow-covered or curvy roads, in darkness or when lane markers are faded or missing.

“Our invention provides an inexpensive and user-friendly technology that overcomes these limitations and can help catch fatigue earlier, well before accidents are likely to happen,” said Van Dongen, who developed the technology with postdoctoral research fellow Pia Forsman.

The science behind the invention was published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention. Researchers analyzed data from two laboratory experiments conducted at WSU Spokane.

The solution uses inexpensive, easy-to-install parts — including a sensor that measures the position of the steering wheel — and could be included as part of a factory installation or as an aftermarket accessory.


Components and Drivers of Trend for Top 10 Workers’ Comp Therapy Drug Costs

View this Table

The Increasing Challenge of Compounded Medications

Compounded medications led the way, with per-user-per-year costs soaring 126% higher. Although these medications account for just 2.7% of pharmacy costs in workers’ compensation, the dramatic rise in price significantly impacted overall trend.

Compounded medications are tailored drugs prepared by mixing, combining or altering ingredients. While intended to address special pharmaceutical needs of some injured workers, compounds tend to be significantly more expensive than commercial formulations and in many cases, there are FDA-approved alternatives for compounded medications.

Without consistent protocols to prepare each drug, compounded drugs can have a greater batch-to-batch variability – meaning injured workers could be receiving medication with a higher potency than intended.

Express Scripts Helps Payers Manage Rising Costs

At the point of sale, clients have the option of reviewing all compounds for authorization. Retrospectively, Express Scripts sends letters to physicians encouraging the use of commercially available, cost effective alternatives where appropriate. Our research has shown that 42.3% of injured workers whose physicians received such communications from Express Scripts discontinued filling compounded medications, thus helping drive down costs for payers.

Narcotics analgesics continue to be the most expensive therapy class for work-related injuries – 32% of overall pharmacy costs. However, utilization for narcotics has declined for the third straight year.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – or NSAIDs – which are non-narcotic medications used to address various pain conditions, saw a 19.4% increase in cost and was the second highest trend driver. 

Specialty medications, including those to prevent blood clots following a surgery, osteoarthritis and inflammatory conditions, make up only 1% of overall pharmacy spend in workers’ compensation but pose a growing cost challenge for payers. The average cost per prescription of a specialty medication was more than $1,119 in 2013 – nearly nine times that of traditional medication.

These and many other insights are available in the full Express Scripts 2013 Workers’ Compensation Drug Trend Report.

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Lifting Safety Can Avoid A Work Comp Pain In The Neck (And Your Back)

by Rebecca Shafer, J.D.

lifting safety yellow diamond signMany workplace accidents occur because of improper lifting techniques. Workplace lifting may cause employees to suffer from back sprains, muscle pulls, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, spinal injuries and other injuries. For example, nursing homes have a high rate of back injuries because of improper lifting mechanics when moving patients. Lifting loads heavier than about 50 pounds increases the risk of injury.

According to OSHA, shoulder and back injuries accounted for over 36 percent of injuries involving missed workdays in 2001. Overexertion and cumulative trauma were the biggest factors in these injuries.

Avoid Repetition
 Holding items for a long time, even if loads are light, increases risk of back and shoulder injury, since muscles can be starved of nutrients and waste products can build up. Repeatedly exerting, such as when pulling wire, can fatigue muscles by limiting recuperation times. Inadequate rest periods do not allow the body to rest.

Avoid Awkward Postures
 Another cause of lifting injuries is awkward postures. Bending while lifting forces the back to support the weight of the upper body in addition to the weight being lifted. Bending while lifting strains the back even when lifting something light. Bending moves the load away from the body and significantly increases the effective load on the back, which increases stress on the lower spine and fatigues muscles. Reaching moves the load away from the back, increases the effective load, and strains shoulders. Carrying loads on one shoulder, under an arm or in one hand creates uneven spinal pressure.

 Lifting Basics
When lifting, your workers should remember these basics:

Hug the spine– Move items close to your body and use your legs, especially when lifting an item from a low location. Keep your elbows close to your body and keep the load as close to your body as possible. Do not start a lift below mid-thigh nor end the lift above shoulder height.

Read Rest of Article: Lifting Safety Can Avoid A Work Comp Pain In The Neck (And Back)

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Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

8 in 10 Drivers Mistakenly Believe Hands-Free Cell Phones Are Safer

One text or call could wreck it allNational Safety Council poll: 8 in 10 drivers believe hands-free is safer

Itasca, IL – New findings from a National Safety Council public opinion poll indicate 80 percent of drivers across America incorrectly believe that hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer than handheld as the brain remains distracted by the cell phone conversation. Of the poll participants who admitted to using hands-free devices, 70 percent said they do so for safety reasons.

“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “The problem is the brain does not truly multi-task. Just like you can’t read a book and talk on the phone, you can’t safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone. With some state laws focusing on handheld bans and carmakers putting hands-free technology in vehicles, no wonder people are confused.”

Currently, no state or municipality has passed a law banning hands-free use, but 12 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning handheld cell phone use while driving. Further, an increasing amount of vehicles are now equipped with dashboard infotainment systems that allow drivers to make hands-free calls as well as send text messages, email and update social media statuses. The NSC poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into vehicles.

To debunk the hands-free myth, the Council has selected ‘Hands-free is not risk-free’ for its April Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign. Help raise awareness by sharing the posters, fact sheets, infographics and more available at Take the pledge to drive cell free at

About the National Safety Council
Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council,, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

Kathy Lane
Communications Director
(630) 775-2307

Thinking Of Retiring? Consider Your Health

photo of Manuel "Manny" Aguirre mixing cocktails at  Musso and Frank Grill
Manuel “Manny” Aguirre, 80, has been mixing cocktails at Musso and Frank Grill in Los Angeles for more than two decades. He works part time and could retire — but he doesn’t want to.

The Musso and Frank Grill is a cherished time warp in Los Angeles. Once inside, you’re in old Hollywood: The place is all dim lighting and curved booths, with a soundtrack featuring every song you ever heard in a black-and-white movie. It’s a steak-and-martini kind of place.

And the guy who makes those famous martinis is Manuel “Manny” Aguirre. He’s been mixing cocktails for 55 years, more than two decades of that behind the long bar here. He just turned 80 and could retire if he wanted to.

“My kids and my grandchildren, they say to me, ‘Grandpa, it’s time.’ But they don’t realize you miss part of your life — your customers and your friends,” he says.

One of those friends is 82-year-old waiter Alonzo “Panama” Castillo, who has worked at the restaurant for 40 years. Time just goes by, he says. “I like it here, so I keep working.”

Like Aguirre, Castillo works part time and could retire if he wanted to. “But I want to keep in shape,” Castillo says. “If I stay home, I will start watching TV. So the best thing for everyone is to work at least part time.”

A majority of older workers in the United States have told pollsters they expect to do just that. There are plenty of financial reasons for staying on the job, such as inadequate savings and volatile 401(k) plans. But some research suggests a reason to keep working that jibes with Aguirre’s and Castillo’s experience: It may help keep you mentally and physically fit.

How Retirement Makes You Feel

One of the largest pools of data for researchers hoping to puzzle out the health effects of retirement comes from the University of Michigan’s health and retirement study, which tracked thousands of older Americans for more than two decades. Economist Dhaval Dave, a research fellow with the National Bureau of Economic Research, says his look at the datashowed that people who kept working were healthier than those who had retired.