2010 Workplace Deaths Soared in West Virginia

The Upper Big Branch disaster in April 2010 accounted for 29 deaths, but in all 54 more deaths were recorded in 2010 than the year before.

BLS highlighted West Virginia's preliminary total of 95 fatal work injuries in 2010 because it was such a contrast to the number from a year before. The 41 deaths in 2009 were the second-lowest total ever in 19 years of BLS tabulations, but the 2010 count of 95 is the highest.

The Upper Big Branch mine disaster on April 5, 2010, is part of the explanation: It killed 29 miners. Yet the total rose by 54 deaths year over year. Final Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries numbers will be released a few months from now.

Nationwide, the preliminary total reported by BLS for 2010 is 4,547 fatal work injuries, slightly below the final count of 4,551 fatal work injuries in 2009.

The Upper Big Branch deaths were classified as resulting from fires, which means fires were the most frequent type of workplace fatality in West Virginia in 2010, with 33 deaths. Highway fatalities rose 11 in 2009 to 20 in 2010, which is the highest count since 10 in 2001. Work-related fatalities resulting from being struck by an object or equipment increased from seven to eight over the year.

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