From the contractors that maintain our roads to the health care workers that guide us toward recovery, Worcester runs on its diverse workforce. Unfortunately, the workplace is not always as safe a place as workers want it to be.

According to the state’s most recent fatality update, 220 people died as a result of workplace accidents in 2016-2017. This includes 21 workers in Worcester County.

What leads to tragedy?

The state identified the five following accidents as the leading causes of death in the workplace and which workers suffered the most during this period:

5. Cars striking workers – Between 2016 and 2017, vehicles colliding with workers on or near roadways caused 20 deaths.

4. Suicide – During this period, 28 Massachusetts workers in a wide array of industries committed suicide or suffered from a self-inflicted injury in the workplace.

3. Falls from heights – Fatal falls impacted the construction industry most heavily. Nearly 68% of fatal workplace falls in Massachusetts happened on construction sites. The heights involved varied from three feet to more than 50. 21 workers died as a result of falls from heights of 20 feet or less.

2. Transportation crashes and rollovers – 33 workers died in transportation crashes, comprising 15% of the state’s workplace deaths during the recorded period. According to a publication from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, commercial truck drivers suffer the most from these fatal incidents.

1. Drug or alcohol overdoses – Between 2016 and 2017, overdoses caused one in every four workplace deaths. Almost every industry felt the impacts of overdose deaths, though the report noted that there were higher rates in jobs that offered minimal paid sick leave and job security Food service, construction and real estate saw the most deaths.

What else to watch out for

Other common fatal injuries listed by the state included boating accidents, workplace homicides and same-level slips and falls. The industries with the highest death count during these years were agriculture, construction and transportation, which have occupations heavily associated with physical labor.

2016 to 2017 had some of the highest worker fatality rates in recent years. While companies will hopefully take these numbers into consideration to create safer work environments, it is important to still be aware of the present risks and what to do if the worst possible scenario happens. If a loved one has died from work-related injuries in Massachusetts, it’s crucial to contact someone with experience in handling workplace accidents and wrongful death.