During pandemic, CT among states with fewest work fatalities, report shows

Connecticut was among the states with the lowest number of fatal occupational injuries in 2020, according to a new report.

Connecticut was among the states with the lowest number of fatal occupational injuries in 2020, according to a new report.

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Connecticut was among the 10 states with the fewest fatal injuries in the workplace in 2020, according to a federal report released Thursday.

The state had 29 fatal occupational injuries, the same number as Montana. Rhode Island had the fewest at five, and Texas had the most at 469, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I think we have a stronger OSHA enforcement, relative to some other states,” said Mo Cayer, program coordinator for the master’s in human resource management at the University of New Haven.

Connecticut doesn’t have an abundance of jobs in some more dangerous fields — logging for example. And there’s been a decline in manufacturing jobs, which also tend to be more dangerous, Cayer said.

Overall, the 4,764 total deaths nationally was the lowest since 2013. This occurred during a year when many employees switched to working from home most or all of the time.

“We’re talking about 2020, which was COVID lockdown in many parts of the country, including in Connecticut,” Cayer said. “There were fewer people going to work, fewer people at work. Maybe as many as a third to 40 percent were not at work much of the time.”

That could have contributed to fewer injuries at work, he said.

Connecticut’s number of workplace deaths rose by three from 2019, but dropped from 48 in 2018, the data shows.

The increase from 2019 isn’t high enough to represent a trend, Cayer said.

“I think we can be proud of our low fatality rate,” Cayer said. “Of course, every death is one too many.”

The report doesn’t include deaths from COVID-19, but federal or state authorities investigated at least 18 workplace-related deaths that occurred as a result of the illness in 2020, publicly available reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show.

The earliest available report was an April death of a nursing facility worker who worked in Bloomfield.

Of those COVID-19 deaths, eight resulted in citations for health or safety violations, OSHA data shows.

Nationally, deaths among health care support workers increased by 15.8 percent, according to the report. The fatality rate for Hispanic workers was 4.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers in 2020, up from 4.2 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Transportation and material moving occupations as well as construction and extraction occupations accounted for almost half of all fatal occupational injuries in the United States, the report says.

In Connecticut, work deaths included incidents such as two workers who were fatally hit by moving vehicles, one who fell out of a scissor lift and another crushed between hay and industrial trucks, according to OSHA reports.

At least four of those deaths resulted in citations, according to reports.