Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports Workplace Deaths
Nationwide Increased Slightly in 2003
A total of 5,559 fatal work injuries were reported nationwide in 2003, a slight increase when compared with the revised total of 5,534 fatalities in 2002, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) collection on September 22.
Fatal injuries involving homicides, fires and explosions, and being struck by objects increased while deaths from highway incidents, falls and electrocutions were all lower in 2003 than in 2002.
Fatal highway incidents were down in 2003 for the second consecutive year but continued to account for the highest number of fatal work injuries. The 1,350 highway deaths accounted for about one out of every four fatal work injuries last year.
Incidents involving workers struck by vehicles or mobile equipment also were down in 2003. However, the number of fatal work injuries involving nonhighway transportation incidents – such as tractor deaths on farms or vehicle fatalities at industrial facilities – rose. Aircraft-related incidents increased as well.
The number of workplace homicides also rose nationwide in 2003, which was the first increase in this category since 2000. The 631 workplace homicides recorded last year is still a 42 percent decline from the high of 1,080 workplace homicides recorded in 1994, BLS said.
Fatal work injuries involving falls and electrocutions were lower. The 691 fatal falls recorded in 2003 was the lowest since 1996. The 246 electrocutions in 2003 represented a decline of 15 percent from the 2002 total.
Fatal injuries resulting from fires and explosions were 20 percent higher in 2003 than in 2002. Likewise, fatalities from being struck by objects also were higher in 2003.
The construction industry was responsible for the largest number of fatal work injuries in 2003, accounting for more than one out of every five fatalities. Specialty trade contractors recorded 626 fatalities or about 56 percent of the 1,126 fatal construction injury total.
The transportation and warehousing sector accounted for 805 fatal work injuries, or about 16 percent of the private industry total in 2003. Truck transportation recorded 517 fatal work injuries or nearly two thirds of the transportation and warehousing total.
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting recorded 707 fatal work injuries, the third highest totals among industry sectors.