Contractor Fatality Data Highlight Governments' Role

For the first time, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data for 2011 include data on fatal injuries involving contractors.

Either state, local, and federal governments are employing a large number of contractors or the ones they do employ are not working safely, based on data released April 25 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data for 2011 include data on fatal injuries involving contractors for the first time, and almost 25 percent of them involved workers who had contracted to work for a government agency -- BLS said these totaled 50 fatal injuries in state government, 47 in local government, and 11 in federal government.

The other significant information in the release is that the final count of fatal work injuries during 2011 rose to 4,693 from the preliminary count of 4,609 published last September. The final 2011 total was the third-lowest annual total since the fatal injury census began in 1992, and it represents a fatality rate of 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down slightly from the final rate of 3.6 reported for 2010.

BLS reported fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 542 of the 4,693 total fatalities, or 12 percent, with Texas (56), Florida (51), and California (42) recording the highest number of contractor fatalities. One hundred seventy of the contractor deaths were falls to a lower level (31 percent), while 72 of them were pedestrian vehicular incidents, including 44 incidents involving contractors struck by a vehicle in a work zone. Hispanic contractors accounted for 28 percent of the fatal work injuries among contractors, well above their 16 percent share of the overall fatal work injury total in 2011.

The largest increase in fatal work injuries among occupations involved drivers of heavy trucks. The total for this occupation rose from 656 cases to 670, an increase of 2 percent.

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