Preliminary numbers from the federal government show the number of workers who died on the job in 2011 declined from the year before. But the report comes with a big asterisk.
A total of 4,609 workplace fatalities occurred in 2011, down from 4,690 in 2010. That’s 13 workers killed on the job each day.
However, these preliminary numbers usually go up by the time the report is finalized several months later (the big asterisk).
That’s what happened with the 2010 numbers. The preliminary report showed a decrease, but workplace deaths actually increased slightly from 2009 to 2010 when the numbers were finalized.
The average increase over the last three years has been 166 fatalities.
If that holds true this year — and it’s likely it will — there will be a slight increase in the number of deaths for the second year in a row.
Mix of good and bad news
Some other key findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report:
- The rate of fatal injury decreased slightly from 3.6 to 3.5 workers per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.
- Construction fatalities declined for the fifth straight year. They’re down 42% since 2006, but part of this can be attributed to a drop in construction activity.
- Fatalities in private truck transportation rose 14% in 2011 for the second consecutive year.
- Transportation incidents accounted for 41% of fatalities. Of those, about 57% were roadway incidents; nonroadway ones, such as those involving tractors on farms, accounted for another 11%, and about 16% involved pedestrians struck by vehicles, such as workers at road construction sites.
- Overall, 17% of occupational deaths resulted from workplace violence, including 242 suicides.
- Falls, slips or trips accounted for 14% of the deaths. Most of these were falls to a lower level. About one in four of those cases were falls of 10 feet or less.
- About 15% of deaths were from contact with objects and equipment. This includes being struck by a falling object or by a powered vehicle.
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting had the highest rate of of occupational fatalities, at 24.4 per 100,000 FTE. Mining was second at 15.8, and transportation and warehousing was third at 15.0.