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Fatal injuries at work fell to 7-year low in 2020, Labor Department says

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Candle factory destroyed by tornado in Kentucky, killing eight workers 04:21

More than 4,700 workers suffered fatal injuries on the job in the U.S. last year, down nearly 11% from 2019 and the lowest death count in seven years, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday.

A worker died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury in 2020, with the 4,764 occupational fatalities tallied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics down from 5,333 in 2019. The bureau's Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries does not report illness-related information, including COVID-19, the DOL said.

Fatal transportation incidents fell just over 16% in 2020 from the prior year. Work entailing moving things around, coupled with construction work, accounted for nearly half, or 47.7%, of workplace deaths last year, according to the federal agency.

The deaths included a construction worker in his 30s who was crushed in an accident involving a crane at a construction site in Inglewood, California, last December, according to a local CBS affiliate. 

Another fatal work accident involved a 53-year-old man who fell about 120 feet while cleaning a chute at a sugar beet processing plant in Bay City, Michigan, late last year. 

Exposure to harmful substances or environments led to 672 worker fatalities in 2020, with accidental drug overdoses accounting for nearly 60%, or 388, of those deaths. That's up from just under 49% of deaths tied to overdoese in 2019.

Overdose deaths have been on the rise for more than two decades, but the pandemic and a more dangerous drug supply led to an acceleration of overdoses in the past two years, separate data showed.  

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