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Study: Towing industry has higher injury, death rate than other industries

Fatality rate more than 15 times that of all U.S. private industries combined

Posted March 27, 2019

A recent study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that the motor vehicle towing industry has a higher rate of work-related injury and death compared to other industries.

Data for the study came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) and Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for the years 2011 through 2016. The data revealed there were 6,400 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the towing industry that resulted in missed workdays. The rate was 204 per 10,000 full-time employees (FTEs), which was more than double the rate of 98 per 10,000 FTEs for all U.S. private industries.

The leading causes of injuries were contact with objects and equipment, followed by overexertion and bodily reaction from bending, kneeling, crawling, or reaching. Most injuries involved sprains, strains, and tears.

CFOI data showed 191 deaths were reported in the towing industry from 2011-2016, which translates to an annual average fatality rate of nearly 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, more than 15 times the rate of 2.8 deaths per 100,000 workers for all U.S. private industries combined. More than half of the deaths occurred in companies that had 10 or fewer employees. The leading causes of death were motor vehicle incidents (which frequently involved workers on the side of the road being struck by passing vehicles), followed by contact with objects and equipment.

NIOSH says findings from the study underscore the need for additional research and tailored prevention efforts.

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