Fatal Occupational Injuries in Texas Decrease

Dec. 10, 2002
According to the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, the number of fatal occupational injuries in Texas decreased in 2001. A total of 534 fatalities were recorded - a decrease of 7 percent from the 2000 total.

The Texas Workers' Compensation Commission's Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) Program collects annual occupational fatality information in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This census is designed to be a comprehensive measure of private and public sector workplace fatalities using information obtained from death certificates, media reports, workers' compensation records and reports from federal and state agencies. This report does not include occupational illnesses, diseases, or heart attacks.

The construction industry recorded the highest number of occupational fatalities in 2001 (121 total). Sixty-five percent of construction fatalities occurred in special trade contracting industries with falls being the most frequent cause of deaths. The transportation and public utilities industry experienced the second highest number of fatalities (80 total).

Fatalities decreased in most major industries in 2001. The industries that experienced the greatest decrease in fatalities were construction (20 percent); retail and wholesale trade (17 percent); and agriculture, forestry, and fishing (12 percent). Although fatalities decreased in most major industries, the mining industry (mainly oil and gas extraction) experienced a 30 percent increase from 2000.

The increase in the number of mining fatalities appears to be a continuation of a trend that began in 2000; from 1999 to 2000 the number of mining fatalities increased by 130 percent. The majority of these fatalities were in the oil and gas extraction industries. In 2001, the highest percentage of mining fatalities was experienced by males between the ages of 25 and 44 (58 percent). The primary cause of mining fatalities was workers being struck by or caught in equipment or objects (38 percent).

The primary cause of occupational fatalities overall remained transportation incidents, which accounted for 39 percent of the total. Transportation incidents have been the primary cause of fatalities since CFOI data was first collected in 1992. Transportation fatalities include those involving road, air, water and rail transportation. Most transportation fatalities were highway and roadway incidents (68 percent). The highest percentage of highway/roadway fatalities was caused by collisions between moving vehicles (68 percent). Sixty-nine percent of highway/roadway fatalities involved trucks. While the number of transportation fatalities decreased by 4 percent from 2000 to 2001, there was a 36 percent increase in the number of workers struck by vehicles.

While assaults and violent acts were the second leading cause of death, there was a 5 percent decrease in assaults and violent acts from 2000 to 2001. A majority of occupational homicides were motivated by robberies (38 percent), with retail workers being the most likely victims (42 percent). Police officers experienced a 41 percent decrease in fatalities due to homicides.

Men accounted for 90 percent of the total occupational fatalities - 48 percent of them were between 25 and 44 years of age and 26 percent worked in the construction industry. Women between 25 and 44 years of age employed in retail and wholesale trade industries accounted for 40 percent of fatalities for their gender group.

Occupational injury and fatality information can be obtained from the Commission's new queriable Online Custom Reports System at www.twcc.state.tx.us/rss/twcc/hsdata_select.html

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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