The federal government has reported the smallest annual total of workplace deaths since the census of occupational injuries was started.
Preliminary numbers show 4,340 fatal work injuries in 2009 (12 per day), down from 5,214 in 2008.
That’s an almost 17% decline, however, final numbers are always somewhat higher than the first preliminary report.
The rate of fatal work injury in 2009 was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from 3.7 in 2008.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics explains that much of the decline is because total hours worked fell by 6% in 2009. Also, some industries that have historically accounted for a large share of fatal work injuries, such as construction, had even larger declines in employment.
Some other statistics from the report:
- The number of fatalities in building and ground maintenance rose 6%, one of the few major occupation groups to have an increase.
- The most frequent cause of fatalities was transportation incidents, accounting for 39%, followed by assaults and violent acts (18%), contact with objects and equipment (17%), falls (14%), exposure to harmful substances or environments (9%), and fires and explosions (3%).
- The service sector accounted for 49% of fatalities, while 41% were in goods-producing industries and 10% involved government workers.
- Commercial fishing was the deadliest occupation, with a fatality rate about 60 times higher than the average for all workers.
U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said, “A single worker hurt or killed on the job is one too many. We cannot and will not relent from our continued strong enforcement of workplace safety laws.”