Workplace fatalities in the U.S. are on the rise, with the waste management sector continuing to represent one of the most dangerous industries in the country.
Preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest 27 individuals lost their lives while working to collect refuse and recyclable material in 2014. While down from 2013's total of 33 deaths, the industry ranks fifth among all civilian occupations with high fatal work injury rates.
The 2014 "death rate," which calculates the number of workers that die each year per 100,000 full-time employees, was 35.8 for waste and recycling collectors, the government figures show. The 2013 rate, by comparison, was slightly lower, at 33.0. The average death rate across all industries in the U.S. was 3.3.
In response to the numbers, the National Waste & Recycling Association said, "a majority of these fatalities could have been prevented, as these workers are struck by passing vehicles."
Sharon Kneiss, NW&RA's president, stated the increased death rate figure "underscores the need for a continued relentless focus on lowering the rate of accidents, injuries and fatalities.”
All told, 4,679 U.S. workers died during 2014, up 2 percent from 2013's total of 4,585 work-related deaths.