January 28, 2023
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Arkansas workplace fatalities rise by 15.6% in 2021

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Arkansas had 74 work-related fatalities in 2021, or one death every 4.9 days. According to state and federal data, the 74 deaths is a 15.6% increase from 64 deaths in 2020. The 2021 numbers, posted Tuesday (Dec. 20), are the most recent available.

There were 5,190 workers who died from a work-related injury in the United States in 2021, up 8.9% from the 4,764 deaths in 2020. A U.S. worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury in 2021.

The data is from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing, Division of Labor, OSH/CFOI Section, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Of the 74 deaths, 49 were among wage and salary workers in the private sector, up from 41 in 2020. Self-employed worker fatalities accounted for 11, down from 13 in 2020. There were 13 fatal injuries among local and state government workers in 2021, up from 10 in 2020. Also, of the 74 deaths, 68 were men and 6 were women, and 44 of the deaths were transportation accidents. Work-related transportation fatality incidents were up from 36 in 2020 and led all fatality events for the 28th year in a row.

Clark Thomas, Arkansas manager for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) consultation program, said state officials are concerned about the rise in fatalities and are working to schedule a January meeting with safety directors. In addition to sharing information on workplace safety during the meeting, Thomas said a key goal “is to get a commitment” that the safety managers will help state officials do more to share safety info.

“We really have to hammer down and come up with basically some approaches we can take,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to see what we need to do to drill down and maybe create a better level of awareness among safety directors around the state.”

Thomas said his office also works with employers to conduct safety programs in the workplace.

Following are other stats on 2021 workplace-related fatalities.
• White (non-Hispanic) workers accounted for 58 of the fatalities. African-American (non-Hispanic) workers accounted for 10 of the fatalities.
• Of the 44 transportation deaths, 26 were from roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles in 2021, no change from 2020; 13 died from roadway collisions with other vehicles; 7 died from roadway collisions with objects other than a vehicle (struck object or animal on the side of the roadway); 6 died from roadway non-collision incidents.
• 10 workers (13.5%) were fatally injured due to contact with objects or equipment in 2021, up from 7 in 2020. This total includes 4 who died when struck by objects or equipment; and 4 who were caught in or compressed by equipment or objects.
• Falls, slips, and trips resulted in 10 work-related fatalities (13.5%) in 2021, up from 7 in 2020.
• 5 workers (6.8%) were killed at work as a result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals in 2021, down from 11 in 2020. All 5 of the fatalities were intentional injuries by a person.
• There were 4 worker deaths (5.4%) due to exposure to harmful substances or environments in 2021, up from 3 in 2020.



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