Minnesota workplace deaths surged closer to triple digits in 2016 and were the highest since 1996, according to U.S. Labor Department data released Thursday by the state.
The state recorded 92 deaths on the job last year, up 24 percent from the 74 in 2015 and 62 in 2014, according to the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the 2011 to 2015 period, workplace deaths averaged 67 a year in the state. The deadliest year on record was 1993, with 113 deaths. Ninety-two were reported in 1996.
Nationally, the trend is in the same direction as in Minnesota, but not as steep of an increase.
There were 5,190 fatally injured workers in the United States in 2016, the highest total since 2008, and a 7 percent increase from the 2015 count of 4,836.
“The overall message here is being safe on the roadways,” said James Honerman, spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industry, “since that is 50 percent of all the fatalities in the state and 40 percent nationally.”
Vehicle-related incidents accounted for 46 deaths. That was up from 31 in 2015 and 24 in 2014, according to the report.
Honerman, whose agency collected the state’s information, said that “beginning the day with safety in mind” is critical.
He said employers also need to have workplace-safety programs that involve employees and management.
Minnesota workers in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting had the highest number of fatalities, with 23, the same as in 2015, according to the federal report.
Construction followed with 15, compared to nine cases in 2015.
Transportation and warehousing saw an increase from six in 2015 to 11 in 2016.
Other facts in the report:
• Exposure to harmful substances or surroundings followed with 12 fatalities vs. 3 in 2015.
• There were 11 deaths from workers falling last year, down from 13 the previous year.
• Men accounted for more than 90 percent of those killed on the job last year. There were 48 deaths among those 55 and older.
The tally by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is considered the most authoritative count across the nation.
Workplace fatalities due to illnesses are not included.
Workplace death data are compiled based on various sources, including death certificates, workers’ compensation records, and reports to federal and state agencies.