Sep 15, 2013

Death on the job: fatal work injuries in 2011 : Beyond the Numbers : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Even as government agencies, safety organizations, and employers strive to eliminate deaths at work, the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) show that in the United States, an average of 13 workers die every day from injuries incurred on the job.1

This issue of Beyond the Numbers summarizes the final 2011 data from CFOI and highlights some important historical trends as well.

Frequency of fatal injuries in the workplace

There were a total of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011. Fatal occupational injuries can occur anywhere and at any time. In 2011, at least one worker died from an at-work injury on each of the 365 days of the year.

CFOI data show that workers are susceptible to a fatal injury while on the job.2 Ten workers under the age of 16 died from an injury incurred at work in 2011. A total of 194 workers age 75 and older were killed including 5 older than age 90. Fatally injured workers were employed in over 240 distinct occupations and over 300 unique industries in 2011. Both private sector (4,188 fatal work injuries) and public sector employees (505 fatal work injuries) face daily hazards while on the job.

Trends over the last 20 years

BLS was charged with collecting data on workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.3 In the early 1990s, BLS began collecting detailed data on all fatal occupational injuries, and the first nationwide, comprehensive data on fatal occupational injuries were published on October 1, 1993, for the 1992 calendar year.

From 1992 to 2011, the total number of fatal work injuries and the published rate at which they occur both declined markedly. During that period, the number of fatal work injuries peaked at 6,632 in 1994 and by 2011, the latest annual total declined to 4,693— the third-lowest year on record. In the first 5 years of CFOI (1992–1996), an average of 6,331 fatal occupational injuries was recorded. From 2007 to 2011, the average has decreased to 4,961 or by 22 percent.4

Fatal injury rates show the number of fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full- time equivalent workers. Fatal occupational injury rates are also near the lowest rates since the CFOI series began. In the early 1990s, workers were killed at a rate of over 5 per 100,000 workers. In 2011, that rate was 3.5 per 100,000 workers.5

Where do fatal work injuries occur?

The number of fatal injuries per state in 2011 ranged from a low of 7 (Rhode Island) to a high of 433 (Texas). Chart 1 shows the distribution of fatal occupational injuries by state in 2011.



Data are also available by metropolitan statistical area (MSA). MSAs can include counties from multiple states so they oftentimes provide a more localized view of fatal occupational injuries. In 2011, the three MSAs with the largest number of fatal occupational injuries were New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (183), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (118), and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown (105).6

Fatal injury rates, which are highlighted below, are available also by state for major industry sectors.

Please continue reading from Stephen Pegula and Jill Janocha at Death on the job: fatal work injuries in 2011 : Beyond the Numbers : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | shared via feedly mobile