Idaho had 30 workplace deaths in 2013, a sharp rise from 17 in 2012, according to an Idaho Department of Labor report. That report found that transportation accidents remained the most common cause of death, and that agriculture and transportation accounted for half of worker deaths last year.
The Labor Department contributes to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Industries, compiling workplace deaths from death certificates, Idaho Industrial Commission reports and other sources.
After dipping below the national average in 2012, Idaho had a higher rate of workplace deaths than the national average, with 4.3 deaths per 100,000 workers. The national rate was 3.3 deaths per 100,000 people. The 2012 number was the lowest total in at least nine years.
After transportation, the most common causes of in Idaho were falls and contact with objects and equipment, typically farm implements. Both of those had fewer deaths than roadway deaths.
Reed Hollinshead, spokesman for the Idaho Transportation Department, said the state is working to improve the safety of its roads. An ITD fatality report for 2013 found that the number of deaths and deaths per miles drive had both risen for two years straight, after steady declines since 2003.
“Ensuring safety and improving safety is always one of our top priorities,” Hollinshead said. He said the state also promotes safety for its road maintenance crews, encouraging them to take breaks and hydrate, especially during warm summer months.
“Some of these guys are standing out on the pavement for 8 to 10 hours,” Hollinshead said. ITD employs maintenance crews, though larger road construction and repair projects are contracted to other firms.
Julie Pipal, president and CEO of the Idaho Trucking Association, said that safety is a top concern of the organization. Much of the danger involving large trucks comes from other vehicles, she said. National data compiled by the American Trucking Association suggests that drivers of cars are at fault for most car-truck crashes, and Pipal said trucks are often better maintained than cars, and that truck drivers have more training and driving experience.
All of the people who died in the workplace in Idaho in 2013 were men, compared to 93 percent nationwide. Men are more likely to work in agriculture and transportation. More Idahoans over the age of 55 — 13 people — died on the job than the 10 people in prime working ages of 25 to 54.
North Dakota is the only state with more than 10 workers per 100,000 killed for each year between 2011 and 2013.l