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What industries have the most workplace deaths in Pennsylvania?

Many of us in modern society take our safety for granted. Because many of our daily activities are routine, and seem to involve little risk, we may have a sense of security as we go about completion of our tasks. Life wasn't always this way, of course, and prior generations may have had more risk involved in their routines. This is still the case in some occupations, as while injury and death can happen anywhere, certain industries are more dangerous than others.

The Federal Department of Labor has a section called the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This organization compiles, organizes and analyzes reports from every state and industry regarding many different aspects of Americans' working lives, including the number of deaths that result while people are engaging in their occupations.

These numbers are reported both as aggregate counts and rates. Rate statistics are those that divide raw numbers by some other measure, in order to, hopefully, more accurately describe, for example, the frequency of an event. For instance, saying there were 10 deaths due to a certain activity doesn't have much descriptive value except to say that 10 people died. However, if only 20 people were engaged in that activity, the fatality rate would be half of the individuals involved, which might paint a different picture.

In Pennsylvania, in 2015, the last year full numbers are available from the BLS, there were three fatal occupational injuries for every 100,000 full-time workers (or their equivalent) in the state. However, these deaths were not evenly distributed between industries. The agriculture and forestry industry (which is grouped along with fishing and hunting occupations) had the highest fatality rate, at over 19 per 100,000 workers. Mining and quarrying, gas and oil extraction, and construction also had fatal injury rates over 10 per 100,000.

As might be expected, it seems that people who work around heavy machinery and who deal with more unstable substances and physical exertion are more at risk for a fatal injury at work. However, any Pennsylvania resident could suffer a workplace death, and those who are left behind have to find some way to pick up the financial and emotional pieces.

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