Worker fatalities in the U.S. have reached record lows but still claimed an average of 14 lives each day in 2008, according to the latest figures by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In finalizing its 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), BLS reports 5,214 fatal work injuries in the U.S., up from the preliminary count of 5,071 reported in August 2009. The total equates to a rate of 3.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
Revisions and additions to the 2008 CFOI counts result from the identification of new cases and the revision of existing cases based on documents received after the release of preliminary results.
Among the changes reported:
• Workplace suicides were higher by 12 cases, bringing that total to 263 cases—the highest ever reported by the program.
• In the private construction sector, fatal injuries increased by six from the preliminary count, but the final total was still 19% lower than in 2007. The fatal work injury rate fell by 10%, from 10.8 fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 equivalent full-time workers in 2007 to 9.7 in 2008.
• Fatal injuries involving falls increased by 20 from the preliminary count, to 700 cases. That total represents a decline of 17% from 2007.
• The largest increases in worker deaths occurred in the transportation and warehousing industries and in government. Transportation and material moving industries recorded the most deaths (1,330), followed by the construction and extraction industries (977).
• The number for fatalities among white, non-Hispanic workers was the lowest total ever for the series. The toll for Hispanic and black workers also declined substantially from 2007.
• Employees age 45 to 54 had the highest death rate; 16- and 17-year-olds had the lowest rate.
The CFOI Program has compiled a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. since 1992 by using diverse data sources to identify, verify, and profile fatal work injuries. For more information, see chapter 9 of the BLS Handbook of Methods, available online at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch9_a1.htm.