Fatal Workplace Injury Rate Rises, Reversing 10-year Trend

A total of 5,703 U.S. workers died from occupational injuries in 2004, an increase of two percent from the revised total of 5,575 fatalities reported in 2003, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In its annual census of fatal occupational injuries, released Aug. 25, BLS reported that the rate of fatal injuries in the workplace also rose, from 4.0 to 4.1 per 100,000 workers, the first such increase since 1994. The number of workplace fatalities has now risen 2 years in a row. The last time this happened was1994.

Despite the rising rate and numbers of death on the job, the 2004 figure of 5,703 represents the third lowest annual total recorded by the government since it began the fatality census in 1992.

Other highlights of the BLS report:

  • Fatal work injuries among Latino workers were up 11 percent in 2004, after falling the two previous years;
  • The rate of fatal work injuries among Latino workers also rose from 4.5 to 4.9 per 100,000 workers;
  • Fatal falls shot up 17 percent last year, to a total of 815 the highest annual total ever reported by the fatality census for this type of injury;
  • The construction industry recorded 1224 fatal workplace injuries, the most of any industry sector and an increase of 8 percent from 2003;
  • The number of workers killed on the job in the manufacturing sector rose 9 percent, from 420 in 2003 to 459 last year;
  • Fatal highway incidents rose slightly in 2004, from 1353 to 1374, reversing a two-year trend of declines in the category that accounts for the largest number of fatal occupational injuries;
  • The number of workplace homicides fell sharply, from 632 in 2003 to 551 in 2004 the lowest annual total yet recorded by the fatality census.

The full BLS census of fatal occupational injuries report is available online at: www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.toc.htm.

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