Sunday, July 5, 2020
July 5, 2020

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Washington’s deadliest occupation? Driving

Transportation incidents account for 34% of fatalities


BELLINGHAM — The most dangerous thing to do at work in the state of Washington in 2018, according to statistics released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was something most adults do just about every day — drive.

Transportation incidents accounted for 34 percent of the 86 fatal occupational injuries suffered in the Evergreen State in 2018, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics press release. That number is actually a little bit lower than the national average of 40 percent transportation-related incidents.

Violence and other injuries caused by people or animals represented 23 percent of the fatal workplace incidents; falls, slips, and trips accounted for 20 percent; and contact with objects and equipment created 15 percent of the fatalities. All other causes represented only 8 percent.

Overall, the state saw a slight increase from the 84 fatal workplace injuries in 2017, but the 86 occupational deaths in 2018 was still midway between the high of 128 the state saw in 1996 and the low of 56 in 2013.

Whatcom County’s workplace fatalities tripled in 2018, but only to three, up from just one in 2017, according to information published by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ annual Work-Related Fatalities Reports. Whatcom tied for the sixth-highest number in the state in 2018 behind King (15), Pierce (12), Snohomish (six), Clark (five) and Cowlitz (four) counties.

Pierce County’s 12 workplace deaths was up from nine in 2017, L&I reported, while Thurston County had one in 2018 after seeing no workplace fatalities a year earlier.

Benton County had three fatal occupational injuries in 2018, while Franklin County had two — up from two and none in 2017, respectively.

The transportation and material occupational group had the most workplace fatalities in 2018 with 18. Six of those deaths were heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

Farming, fishing and forestry occupations accounted for 11 deaths, followed closely by construction and extrication occupations with 10.

Other occupations that had fatal workplace injuries, according to the statistics, were:

• Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance — eight.

• Sales-related — seven.

• Installation, maintenance and repair — five.

• Military specific — five.

• Management — four.

• Protective service — four.

• Production — three.

• Media and communication equipment — one.

• Cooks, institutional and cafeteria — one.

The state noted that 91 percent of the work-related fatalities were men, which is similar to national numbers.