The number of workers whose deaths were tied to their jobs in the U.S. likely rose last year to the highest number since 2008, according to figures released on Thursday by the Labor Department.
The number of oil-and-gas industry workers who died in job-related accidents rose dramatically, continuing a pattern that has troubled worker-safety experts.
The report by the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found in a preliminary study that 142 people last year died working in the oil fields, up from 112 in 2013, a rise of 27%. That preliminary figure is the same as the number of oil-field workers who died in 2012, which was the highest in at least two decades. The agency adds more fatalities when it revises its numbers each spring—generally finding between 100 and 200 additional deaths overall. If that trend holds true, the number of oil-and-gas worker deaths would mean last year was the deadliest year going back at least as far as 1993 for that industry.