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September 6, 2011 2:00 PM CDT

Census of fatal occupational injuries

National census of fatal occupational injuries in 2010

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The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2010 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2010 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
A preliminary total of 4,547 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2010, about the same as the final count of 4,551 fatal work injuries in 2009, according to results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2010 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the same as the final rate for 2009. Over the last 3 years, increases in the published counts based on information received after the release of preliminary data have averaged 174 fatalities per year or about 3 percent of the revised totals. Final 2010 CFOI data will be released in Spring 2012.

Economic factors continue to play a role in the fatal work injury counts. Total hours worked were up slightly in 2010 in contrast to the declines recorded in both 2008 and 2009, but some historically high-risk industries continued to experience declines or slow growth in total hours worked.

Key preliminary findings of the 2010 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:
  • The number of fatal work injuries among the self-employed declined by 6 percent to 999 fatalities, more than the decline in their hours worked. The number of fatal injuries among wage and salary workers increased by 2 percent in 2010.

  • Fatal work injuries in the private mining industry rose from 99 in 2009 to 172 in 2010, an increase of 74 percent. The fatal work injury rate for mining increased from 12.4 per 100,000 FTEs in 2009 to 19.9 per 100,000 in 2010. The multiple-fatality incidents at the Upper Big Branch Mine and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig are included in these figures.

  • Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector declined by 10 percent from 2009 to 2010 and are down nearly 40 percent since 2006.

  • Work-related fatalities resulting from fires more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 109 in 2010--the highest count since 2003.

  • Workplace homicides declined 7 percent in 2010 to the lowest total ever recorded by the fatality census, but workplace homicides involving women increased by 13 percent.

  • Fatal work injuries among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers declined by 9 percent in 2010 while fatalities among non-Hispanic white workers were higher by 2 percent. Fatal work injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers were down 4 percent in 2010.

  • The number of fatal workplace injuries among police officers increased by 40 percent, from 96 in 2009 to 134 in 2010.

Profile of 2010 Fatal Work Injuries by Type of Incident

The number of fatal work injuries resulting from fires and explosions rose from 113 in 2009 to 187 in 2010, an increase of 65 percent. The increase was led by an increase of 106 percent in fatalities resulting from fires which rose from 53 in 2009 to 109 in 2010. Of the 187 fatalities involving fires and explosions, 82 occurred in multiple fatality incidents.

Workplace homicides fell by 7 percent in 2010. The preliminary workplace homicide total for 2010 (506 cases) represents a decline of more than 50 percent from the high of 1,080 homicides reported in 1994. (See Chart 1.) Despite the overall decline, workplace homicides involving women were up 13 percent in 2010. Workplace suicides declined slightly from the series high of 263 cases in 2009 to 258 cases in 2010. Even with the decline, the 2010 preliminary count of workplace suicides is the third highest annual total for the fatal work injury census.

Fatal falls declined 2 percent in 2010 (from 645 in 2009 to 635 in 2010). Overall, fatal falls are down 25 percent from the series high of 847 fatal falls reported in 2007. Since 2007, fatal falls in the private construction industry have decreased by 42 percent. Fatal injuries resulting from being struck by objects or equipment were also lower, down 4 percent in 2010 to 402. Fatal work injuries involving exposure to harmful substances or environments were up slightly, but electrocutions declined.

Chart 1. Four most frequent work-related fatal injury events, 1992–2010*
Chart 1. Four most frequent work-related fatal injury events, 1992–2010*
*Data for 2010 are preliminary. Data for prior years are revised and final.
NOTE: Data from 2001 exclude fatal work injuries resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks. Transportation counts are expected to rise when updated 2010 data are released in Spring 2012 because key source documentation on specific transportation-related incidents has not yet been received.
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2011.

Transportation incidents decreased slightly in 2010 relative to 2009, but still accounted for nearly 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2010. Nonhighway incidents, such as an off-road tractor overturn, were higher in 2010 (up 4 percent) as were transportation incidents involving pedestrians and railways. Fatal occupational injuries involving water vehicle incidents and aircraft incidents were both lower in 2010. (Note that transportation counts presented in this release are expected to rise when updated 2010 data are released in Spring 2012 because key source documentation detailing specific transportation-related incidents has not yet been received.)

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by incident, see the 2010 tables at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Profile of Fatal Work Injuries in 2010 by Industry Sector

Private sector mining fatalities were up 74 percent in 2010, increasing from 99 cases in 2009 to 172 cases in 2010. Fatal work injuries were sharply higher both in mining activities other than oil and gas (up 110 percent) and also in support activities for mining (up 71 percent). Multiple-fatality incidents in this industry were a major factor in the increased fatality total in mining. The Upper Big Branch mining disaster claimed 29 workers and 11 workers died in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Chart 2. Number and rate of fatal occupational injuries, by industry sector, 2010*
Chart 2. Number and rate of fatal occupational injuries, by industry sector, 2010*
*Data for 2010 are preliminary.
NOTE: All industries shown are private with the exception of government, which includes fatalities to workers employed by governmental organizations regardless of industry. Fatal injury rates exclude workers under the age of 16 years, volunteers, and resident military. The number of fatal work injuries represents total published fatal injuries before the exclusions. For additional information on the fatal work injury rate methodology changes please see www.bls.gov/iif/oshnotice10.htm.
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2011.

The number of fatal work injuries in the private industry construction sector declined by 10 percent in 2010. Fatal work injuries in construction have declined every year since 2006 and are down nearly 40 percent over that time. Economic conditions may explain much of this decline with total hours worked having declined another 6 percent in construction in 2010, after declines in both 2008 and 2009. Even with the lower fatal injury total, construction accounted for more fatal work injuries than any other industry in 2010. (See Chart 2.)

Among service-providing industries in the private sector, fatal work injuries in transportation and warehousing accounted for 631 fatalities, about the same as the count in 2009 (633 fatalities). However, the number of fatal injuries in truck transportation, the largest subsector within transportation and warehousing in terms of employment, increased by 2 percent in 2010, led by a 17 percent increase in specialized freight trucking. Among other transportation subsectors, fatal work injuries in air and rail transportation were higher, but fatalities in water transportation declined in 2010.

Fatal work injuries in the professional and business services sector were down 16 percent, led by a decline in fatalities in landscape services from 168 in 2009 to 130 in 2010. Fatal injuries in the educational and health service industries were higher by 13 percent.

Fatal work injuries among government workers were up 3 percent in 2010, due largely to an increase in fatalities to state government workers (notably police protection workers) from 75 in 2009 to 107 in 2010. Fatal work injuries incurred by local government workers were also higher in 2010, but fatal injuries among federal government workers were lower (down 21 percent to 96 fatal work injuries in 2010).

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by industry, see the 2010 tables at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Profile of Fatal Work Injuries in 2010 by Occupation

Fatal work injuries in the construction and extraction occupations declined by 9 percent in 2010 to the lowest level since the series high reported in 2006. Construction trades worker fatalities were down 15 percent (from 621 in 2009 to 530 in 2010) and have declined 46 percent since 2006. Fatal work injuries involving construction laborers, the worker subgroup accounting for the highest number of fatalities in the construction trades worker group, were down by 16 percent in 2010 to 193 fatal work injuries. In contrast, fatal work injuries involving extraction workers were up sharply, from 59 in 2009 to 91 in 2010 including a number of fatal work injuries from the Upper Big Branch Mine and Deepwater Horizon oil rig incidents.

Fatal work injuries involving farming, fishing, and forestry workers increased by 9 percent in 2010. Fatalities involving agricultural workers, including farmworkers and laborers, rose from 127 in 2009 to 156 in 2010. Fatalities among logging workers also increased in 2010 from 36 in 2009 to 59 in 2010, but fatalities among fishers and related fishing workers declined.

The number of fatal work injuries among protective service occupations increased by 6 percent in 2010 after two years of declines. The increase was led by fatalities among police officers which rose 40 percent from 96 to 134 in 2010. Of the 134 fatal work injuries among police officers, 57 involved highway incidents and 48 involved homicides. Most other subgroups in the protective service occupational group declined in 2010.

Fatal work injuries involving workers in transportation and material moving occupations were higher by 5 percent in 2010 and accounted for about one quarter of all occupational fatalities. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers, the subgroup with the highest number of fatal work injuries within the transportation and material moving group, led the increase. Fatalities in this subgroup rose from 647 in 2009 to 683 in 2010, an increase of 6 percent.

Fatal work injuries involving resident military personnel decreased 44 percent in 2010 to 42 fatalities.

Chart 3. Occupations with high fatal work injury rates, 2010*
Chart 3. Occupations with high fatal work injury rates, 2010*
*Data for 2010 are preliminary.
NOTE: Fatal injury rates exclude workers under the age of 16 years, volunteers, and resident military. The number of fatal work injuries represents total published fatal injuries before the exclusions. For additional information on the fatal work injury rate methodology changes please see www.bls.gov/iif/oshnotice10.htm.
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2011.

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by occupation, see the 2010 tables at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Profile of Fatal Work Injuries in 2010 by Worker Characteristics

The number of fatal work injuries rose 2 percent among non-Hispanic white workers in 2010, but were lower
for both non-Hispanic black or African-American workers and for Hispanic or Latino workers. The largest decline was among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers who recorded 9 percent fewer fatalities in 2010 after a decline of 21 percent in 2009. With the lower count in 2010, fatal work injuries among black or African-American workers have decreased by more than a third (37 percent) since 2007.

Fatal work injuries among Hispanic or Latino workers were down 4 percent in 2010 to the lowest level since 1997. Of the 682 fatal work injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers, 427 (or 63 percent) involved foreign-born workers. Overall, there were 774 fatal work injuries involving foreign-born workers in 2010, of which the greatest share (297 or 38 percent) were born in Mexico.

Total hours worked for wage and salary workers increased slightly in 2010, but declined by nearly 2 percent for the self-employed. Fatal injuries to self-employed workers (the lowest annual total since the fatality census was first conducted in 1992) declined 6 percent from 2009 to 2010, while fatalities among wage and salary workers rose by 2 percent.

Fatal work injuries incurred by women increased by 6 percent in 2010, but declined by 1 percent for men. Fatal work injuries increased for workers under 18 years of age, workers age 25 to 34, and for workers 55 years of age and older. All other age groups recorded lower numbers of fatalities.

Profile of Fatal Work Injuries by State

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia reported higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2010 than in 2009, while 23 states reported lower numbers.

For more detailed state results, contact the individual state agency responsible for the collection of CFOI data in that state. Although data for Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam are not included in the national totals for this release, results for these jurisdictions are available.

Background of the Program

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), part of the BLS Occupational Safety and Health Statistics (OSHS) program, compiles a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. during the calendar year. The CFOI program uses diverse state, federal, and independent data sources to identify, verify, and describe fatal work injuries. This assures counts are as complete and accurate as possible. For the 2010 data, over 18,000 unique source documents were reviewed as part of the data collection process.

Another OSHS program, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), presents frequency counts and incidence rates by industry and also by detailed case circumstances and worker characteristics of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses that result in days away from work. Incidence rates for 2010 by industry will be published in October 2011, and information on 2010 case circumstances and worker characteristics will be available in November 2011. For additional data, access the BLS Internet site: www.bls.gov/iif/. For technical information about and definitions for the CFOI program, please go to the BLS Handbook of Methods on the BLS web site here: www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch9_a1.htm.


About the Author

The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy. Visit www.bls.gov to learn more.

 

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