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Deadly construction-related accidents are down

People celebrating Auld Lang Syne in 2020 had no idea that the year they were looking forward to would become life-changing and earth-shattering. Soon after the new year, a pandemic began to spread throughout the United States, killing countless people.

In a time when bad news dominates the headlines, multiple blue-collar industries received some much-needed good news from a year that most people would like to forget. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal injuries saw a decrease in two out of three specific categories.

Lowest fatalities in seven years

While close to 4,700 construction workers suffering fatal injuries while on the job is still too many, the number actually represented close to an 11 percent reduction from 2019. Overall, the numbers represent the lowest fatality rate in seven years. Breaking down the numbers further, workers lost their lives every 111 minutes in job-related accidents.

The transportation industry saw a reduction of 16 percent in 202 from the previous year. Combined with construction-related deaths, those involved in moving items from place to place saw almost 50 percent of work-related fatalities.

Not all the news is good. Exposure to harmful substances or environments increased, with 672 workers dying in 2020. It should come as no surprise that the first year of an unprecedented pandemic would accelerate the continuing increase in deaths due to narcotic abuse. Nearly 60 percent of the fatalities resulted from drug overdoses. The previous year ended at 49 percent.

Construction and transportation jobs are challenging and stressful, with employees working long hours under challenging conditions. Add to that a worldwide health crisis. Employers must be proactive in ensuring that their workers are safe now and well into a hopeful non-pandemic future.