4,340 workplace fatalities in 2009, that’s the official number according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the lowest since official records started to be kept back in 1992. The total for 2008 was 5,214.
The economy is, of course, one of the major factors. With construction and manufacturing down and unemployment up, it stands to reason that fewer workers out on the job sites as well as shorter shifts is going to result in a decline in accidents and fatalities. That isn’t meant to take away from the progress made in making the workplace a safer place.
Some of the key findings of the census which can be viewed here, are:
- Workplace homicides declined 1 percent in 2009, in contrast to an overall decline of 17 percent for all fatal work injuries. The homicide total for 2009 includes the 13 victims of the November shooting at Fort Hood. Workplace suicides were down 10 percent in 2009 from the series high of 263 in 2008.
- Though wage and salary workers and self-employed workers experienced similar declines in total hours worked in 2009, fatal work injuries among wage and salary workers in 2009 declined by 20 percent while fatal injuries among self-employed workers were down 3 percent.
- The wholesale trade industry was one of the few major private industry sectors reporting higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2009.
- Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector declined by 16 percent in 2009 following the decline of 19 percent in 2008.
- Fatalities among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers were down 24 percent. This worker group also experienced a slightly larger decline in total hours worked than non-Hispanic white or Hispanic workers.
- The number of fatal workplace injuries in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations rose 6 percent, one of the few major occupation groups to record an increase in fatal work injuries in 2009.
- Transportation incidents, which accounted for nearly two-fifths of all the fatal work injuries in 2009, fell 21 percent from the 2,130 fatal work injuries reported in 2008.