BLS: Preliminary 2010 Worker Fatality Count Holds Steady Compared to Previous Year

Nearly the same number of workers lost their lives as a result of fatal workplace injuries in 2010 as in 2009, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 4,547 fatal occupational injuries occurred in 2010, compared to the 4,551 fatalities recorded in 2009.

The preliminary 2010 fatal injury count may change or increase before the final BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data becomes available in Spring 2012.

“When the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970, the National Safety Council estimated that 14,000 workers died each year on the job,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Now, with a work force that has doubled in size, the annual number of fatalities has dropped significantly. But it’s not enough. We cannot relent from our enforcement of laws that keep our nation’s workers safe. One worker killed or injured on the job is one too many.”

The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2010 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, the same as the final rate for 2009. According to BLS, total hours worked in 2010 increased slightly compared to the declines in 2008 and 2009. Some high-risk industries, however, continued to experienced declines or slow growth in total hours worked.

Key findings include:

  • In the private construction sector, fatal occupational injuries declined 10 percent from 2009 to 2010. Since 2006, fatal injuries in this industry declined by nearly 40 percent.
  • In the private mining industry, fatal injuries increased 74 percent, from 99 fatalities in 2009 to 172 in 2010. The fatal work injury rate rose from 12.4 to 19.9 within that time. The fatalities from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster are reflected in these numbers.
  • Fatal falls declined 2 percent in 2010 and, overall, fatal falls are down 25 percent since 2007. In the construction industry, fatal falls have decreased by 42 percent since 2007.
  • Workplace homicides declined 7 percent in 2010 to the lowest total ever recorded by CFOI. Workplace homicides involving women, however, increased by 13 percent.
  • The number of fatal workplace injuries among police officers increased by 40 percent, from 96 in 2009 to 134 in 2010.
  • In 2010, occupational fatalities resulting from fire nearly doubled from the previous year and reached the highest levels since 2003 – 109 workers lost their lives in fires last year, compared to 53 in 2009.
  • While transportation incidents declined slightly compared to 2009, they still accounted for nearly 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2010.
  • Fatal work injuries among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers declined by 9 percent in 2010 while fatalities among non-Hispanic white workers rose by 2 percent. Fatal work injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers were down 4 percent in 2010.
  • Fatal work injuries among women increased by 6 percent in 2010. Fatal injuries also increased for workers younger than 18, workers age 25-34 and workers 55 or older. Other age groups recorded lower numbers of fatalities.

“As our economy continues to strengthen and the workforce expands, we at the Department of Labor will remain resolute in our mission to ensure that safety is not sacrificed as America’s workers provide for themselves and their families,” Solis concluded.

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