The Southeastern part of the U.S. has an especially high workplace fatality rate, with 5.2 work-related injury deaths per 100,000 workers in 2014, compared with 3.8 nationwide, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The most deadly states

Within that region, Arkansas, Louisiana, and West Virginia had the highest rates of work-related deaths; Arkansas at 7.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, Louisiana at 6.8, and West Virginia at 6.6.

Those figures come from report published in the peer-reviewed journal Workplace Health & Safety based 2008–2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries analyzed by NIOSH investigators and state health departments. The study focused on 12 southeastern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Why so high?

One reason for the high fatality rate may be that more than 20% of workers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia worked in the high-fatality rate industries of agriculture, construction, mining, and transportation. Transportation-related events were the most common cause of work-related injury deaths, both nationally and in the Southeast, followed by contact with objects and equipment, violence, falls, exposure to harmful substances or environments, and fires and explosions.

NIOSH says the findings indicate that more research is necessary to understand the underlying causes of the high rates of work-related injury deaths observed in these southeastern states – research which will help address these critical occupational safety and health issues.