2010 Fatality Numbers Coming Aug. 25

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the 2010 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries at 10 a.m. EDT, we'll know whether the economy continued to push the totals down for construction in particular.

The 2010 estimated fatality numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics scheduled for release Aug. 25 have a tough act to follow: The 2009 estimate of 4,340 work fatalities was about 17 percent below the final 2008 count of 5,214 and was the smallest annual preliminary count in the history of the CFOI, which began in 1992.

It was clear that a weak economy had caused the 2009 fatalities to fall so sharply. Construction, for example, continued to outpace other sectors in terms of total work fatalities, but total construction fatalities declined 16 percent in 2009 after a decline of 19 percent in 2008. "Economic conditions may explain much of this decline with total hours worked having declined 17 percent in construction in 2009, after a decline of 10 percent the year before," BLS said.

Private-sector construction fatalities in 2009 were more than one-third lower than the record reached set in 2006, according to BLS. Fatal injuries involving workers in the construction of buildings were down 27 percent from 2008, with most of the decrease occurring in nonresidential building construction (down 44 percent, to 55 cases). Heavy and civil engineering construction was down 12 percent, and the segment with the largest number of fatal work injuries, specialty trade contractors, had 16 percent fewer deaths in 2009 than in 2008.

Other highlights of last year's report included these:

  • Workplace homicides fell 1 percent from 2008 to 2009. Workplace suicides were down 10 percent in 2009 from the record high of 263 in 2008.
  • Fatal workplace injuries in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations rose 6 percent, making it one of the few major occupation groups to record an increase in fatalities in 2009.
  • Transportation incidents accounted for nearly 40 percent of all the fatal work injuries in 2009 but still fell by 21 percent from the 2,130 fatalities reported in 2008.

Two more significant BLS releases are coming this fall:

  • Oct. 20, 10 a.m. Eastern, 2010 annual occupational injuries and illnesses
  • Nov. 9, 10 a.m. Eastern, 2010 annual occupational injuries and illnesses by selected characteristics

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