The trucking industry has seen safer days, according to a new report by the Department of Labor (DOL). As the preliminary released data stands, truck drivers have among the highest fatality rates in the United States.
There was a 14% increase in trucking fatalities in 2011, which represented the “second consecutive year that counts have risen in this sector after reaching a series low in 2009,” according to the DOL.
Transportation incidents accounted for more than 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2011, according to the report.
Of the 1,898 transportation-related incidents, about 57% (1,075 cases) were roadway incidents involving motor vehicles. Non-roadway incidents, such as a tractor overturn in a farm field, accounted for another 11% of the transportation-related fatal injuries.
About 16% of fatal transportation incidents in 2011 involved pedestrians who were struck by vehicles. Of the 312 fatal work injuries involving pedestrians struck by vehicles, 61 occurred in work zones.
However, not all was bad for workers. The report found that work injuries in the private construction sector declined 7%, from 774 in 2010 to 721 in 2011.
Private sector mining fatalities were also down; they decreased 10% to 154 in 2011 from 172 in 2010 after rising 74% in 2010.
The DOL also announced that 4,609 workers died from “occupational injuries” in 2011, a decrease from 4,690 workplace deaths in 2010. The number is considered a tentative total, the bureau noted.
Bottom line: the report finds good news for workplace safety overall, but the trucking industry particularly faces challenges on the road ahead.
The overall worker fatality decrease is “a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, in a statement shortly after the numbers were released.