BLS: Workplace Fatalities Slightly Down in 2006

August 9, 2007 ( - There were 5,703 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2006, down slightly from the revised total of 5,734 fatalities in 2005, according to newly released data from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The rate of fatal work injuries in 2006 was 3.9 per 100,000 workers, compared to a rate of 4 per 100,000 in 2005, BLS said in a news release. The 2006 rate was lower than the rate for any year since the fatality census was first conducted in 1992.

By injury type, highway incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal work-related event, accounting for nearly one out of four fatal work injuries; however, the number of highway incidents fell 8% in 2006. The 1,329 fatal highway incidents in 2006 was the lowest annual total since 1993, according to the news release.

The 215 fatalities involving aircraft in 2006 represented a 44% increase over the 149 in 2005. Overall, there were 44 multiple-fatality aircraft incidents claiming 137 workers in 2006, including the August 2006 Comair crash that resulted in 23 fatalities.

Fatal work injuries involving falls increased 5% and workplace homicides decreased 9% in 2006. The 583 fatalities resulting from being struck by objects in 2006 represented a 4% decline from the 2005 total.

Fatalities involving fires and explosions increased by 26% in 2006. Fatalities resulting from exposure to harmful substances or environments were also higher last year, led by a 12% increase in exposure to caustic, noxious, or allergenic substances.

Coal mining industry fatalities more than doubled in 2006, due to the Sago Mine disaster and other multiple-fatality coal mining incidents. Fatalities among self-employed workers declined 11% and reached a series low in 2006.

The complete BLS data is here .