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Construction Still Leads Work Deaths

Monday, August 29, 2011

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Construction deaths are declining, but the industry still remains America’s most dangerous and U.S. workplaces were just as deadly in 2010 as in 2009, the federal government reports.

A preliminary total of 4,547 fatal work injuries was recorded in the United States in 2010—about the same as the final count of 4,551 in 2009, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.



Work deaths from hazardous exposures increased in 2010.

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.

Credit the still-struggling economy for the slight improvement, BLS said. Total hours worked were up slightly in 2010, in contrast to the declines recorded in both 2008 and 2009, but construction and some other historically high-risk industries continued to experience declines or slow growth in total hours worked.

Key Findings

The numbers show:

Construction toll declines, but still leads. The number of fatal work injuries in the private-industry construction sector declined by 10 percent in 2010. Fatal work injuries in construction have dropped 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, on top of declines in both 2008 and 2009. However, “even with the lower fatal injury total,” BLS said, “construction accounted for more fatal work injuries than any other industry in 2010.”

Mining deaths soar. Private-sector mining deaths were up 74 percent, to 172 people, in 2010. Fatal work injuries were sharply higher in both mining activities other than oil and gas and in support activities for mining. Multiple-fatality incidents were a major factor in the higher toll: The Upper Big Branch mining disaster claimed 29 workers, and 11 workers died in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Trades continue decline. Construction trades worker fatalities were down 15 percent, to 530 in 2010, and have declined 46 percent since 2006. Fatal work injuries involving construction laborers—the group with the most fatalities among construction trades—declined 16 percent in 2010 to 193.

Falls, struck-bys dip; fatal exposures climb. Fatal falls declined 2 percent in 2010, to 635. Overall, fatal falls are down 25 percent from the record 847 reported in 2007. Fatal falls in the private construction industry have decreased by 42 percent since 2007.

Fatal injuries resulting from being struck by objects or equipment were down 4 percent in 2010, to 402. Fatal work injuries involving exposure to harmful substances or environments were up slightly. Electrocutions declined.

Transportation incidents keep serious pace. Transportation incidents decreased slightly in 2010 but still accounted for nearly two out of every five fatal work injuries. Non-highway incidents, such as an off-road tractor overturn, were higher in 2010. So were transportation incidents involving pedestrians and railways.

Final 2010 CFOI data will be released in the spring of 2012. Over the last three years, final totals have averaged 174 fatalities per year, or about 3 percent of the revised totals.

BLS offers detailed tables of 2010’s fatal occupational injuries by:

• Event or exposure

• Industry and selected event or exposure

• Occupation and selected event or exposure

• Worker characteristics and selected event or exposure

• State and event or exposure

Dying to Work

“No worker should have to sacrifice his or her life to earn a living,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “An average 12 workers die on the job every day, and that reality continues to drive the work of the Labor Department.”

She added: “As our economy continues to strengthen and the workforce expands, we at the Department of Labor will remain resolute in our mission to ensure that safety is not sacrificed as America’s workers provide for themselves and their families.  My constant focus is ‘good jobs for everyone,’ and safety is an essential part of that equation.”


Tagged categories: Construction; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health and safety

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