Personal Injury

Workplace fatalities saw little improvement in 2010

The number of workplace deaths in 2010 was virtually the same as the number of workplace deaths reported in 2009, a preliminary report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found. According to the initial data, 4,547 fatal workplace incidents occurred last year, down very slightly from 4,551 in 2009. 

All in all, the federal government found there were 3.5 deaths per every 100,000 workers in 2010. Expected increases in the final data would increase the preliminary figure by 3 percent (136 worker fatalities), as has happened in the last 3 years, which would signify an increase in workplace fatalities for last year.

Some for the key findings in the 2010 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

  • Fatal work injuries in the private mining industry rose from 99 in 2009 to 172 in 2010, an increase of 74 percent. These numbers include the deadly cave-in at Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, which killed 29, and BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 workers.
  • Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector fell 10 percent from 2009 to 1010 and are down nearly 40 percent since 2006. However, the BLS notes that economic factors are partly responsible for this decline, as the construction industry has been one of the hardest hit in the slow economy.
  • Consequently, fatal falling injuries, which occur most in the construction occupation, were down 2 percent from 645 in 2009 to 635 in 2010. Overall, fatal falls in the private construction industry have dropped 25 percent since peaking at 847 in 2007.
  • Fatal struck-by injuries and electrocutions also dropped slightly in 2009, while fatalities involving exposure to harmful substances or environments were up.
  • The number of fatal injuries among wage and salary workers increased by 2 percent in 2010.
  • Work-related fatalities resulting from fires more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 109 in 2010–the highest count since 2003.
  • Workplace homicides declined 7 percent in 2010 to the lowest total ever recorded by the fatality census, but workplace homicides involving women increased by 13 percent.
  • Fatal work injuries among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers declined by 9 percent in 2010, while fatalities among non-Hispanic white workers were higher by 2 percent. Fatal on-the-job injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers were down 4 percent in 2010.
  • The number of fatal work injuries among police officers increased by 40 percent, from 96 in 2009 to 134 in 2010.
  • Work-related transportation incidents decreased slightly in 2010 from 2009, but still accounted for nearly 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries.
  • Fatal work injuries involving farming, fishing, and forestry workers increased by 9 percent in 2010. Other industries in which worker fatalities increased were farming / agricultural, up 8 percent to 156 in 2010, and logging, which saw a 6 percent increase in worker fatalities.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics