Workplace Deaths Fall Slightly in 2005

August 11, 2005 ( - America's workplaces were slightly safer in 2005 than a year before, with the number of fatal work injuries ticking down slightly, according to government data.

A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US Department of Labor said that a total of 5,702 fatal work injuries were recorded in theUS in 2005, down about 1% from the revised total of 5,764 in 2004. The rate at which fatal work injuries occurred in 2005 was 4.0 per 100,000 workers, down slightly from a rate of 4.1 per 100,000 in 2004.

Overall, the BLS said that similar to 2004, the combined number of fatalities in construction, extraction, transportation and material moving occupations accounted for nearly half of all fatal work injuries in 2005 (48%).

Key findings of the 2005 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries included:

  • fatal work injuries among workers under 20 years of age were up about 18% from 2004 to 166.
  • fatal work injuries among women in 2005 were down 3% to 402 – the lowest total ever recorded by the fatality census.
  • fatalities among agricultural workers were up 23% from 145 in 2004 to 178 in 2005.
  • fatal work injuries among Hispanic workers increased by 2% in 2005 to a new high, though the fatality rate for Hispanic workers was lower than the previous year.
  • fatal falls were lower by 7% after reaching a high in 2004.
  • while the number of fatal work injuries in private construction continued to be the most of any industry sector, the number of fatalities was 4% lower in 2005 than 2004.
  • fatal workplace injuries attributable to hurricanes accounted for 29 fatal work injuries in 2005, though this total may rise as additional cases are identified.
  • fatal highway incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal workplace event, accounting for one in every four fatalities nationally in 2005. Fatal highway incidents rose by 2% in 2005, accounting for 1,428 worker deaths.

Plane Deaths

According to the BLS, the number of fatal work injuries involving aircraft declined 36% in 2005, after going up the previous two years. The 147 fatal injuries involving aircraft in 2005 was a survey series low for the fatality census and 24% lower than the lowest previous annual total. Fatalities involving railroad incidents, however, were sharply higher, rising from 50 in 2004 to 84 in 2005, according to the government.

The 767 fatal falls recorded in 2005 represented a 7% decline from the series high recorded in 2004. Lower numbers of fatal falls from roofs (from 180 in 2004 to 160 in 2005), ladders (from 135 to 129), from stairs or steps (from 27 to 17), and from nonmoving vehicles (from 84 to 74) led to the lower overall total. However, falls on the same level (to a floor or onto or against objects) rose in 2005 (from 61 to 83).

A total of 564 workplace homicides was recorded in 2005 (up from 559 in 2004). However, workplace suicides were sharply lower in 2005, dropping 14% to a series low of 177 fatalities.

Twenty-six states reported lower numbers of fatal work injuries in 2005 than in 2004, 22 states and theDistrict of Columbia reported higher numbers, and two states were unchanged. Four states reported increases of at least 20% (Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire and Wisconsin), while five states reported decreases of at least 20% (Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Mexico, and West Virginia).

The BLS statistical report is here .