The Department of Labor’s BLS National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2007, released in August 2008, showed that highway incidents were still the primary cause of on-the-job deaths, accounting for almost one out of four fatal work injuries. Although they remained the most frequent type of work-related fatality, the number of highway incidents fell by more than 3% in 2007, the lowest level since 1993.
Falls were again the second leading cause of workplace death. The number of on-the-job falls increased three percent in 2007, with 835 employees dying in this manner. Falls have increased by 39% since the census began in 1992. The increase in falls was driven by increases in falls on the same level as well as falls from non-moving vehicles. However, fatal falls from roofs fell from 185 fatalities in 2006 to 161 in 2007.
On-the-job homicides rose from the fourth to the third leading cause of death, claiming the lives of 610 workers. Just over 80% of those workers were victims of a shooting. However, the number of workplace homicides in 2007declined by 44% from the high of 1,080 reported in 1994.
Being struck by objects ranked fourth, with 504 fatalities. The number of employees who were fatally injured from being struck by objects represented a 16% decline from 2006, marking the second year of a downward trend in this category.
Deaths from fires and explosions decreased from 202 in 2006 to 151 in 2007, representing the lowest totals ever since the census began. Fatalities caused by exposure to harmful substances or environments were also lower in 2007. All of the sub-categories within this type of fatality showed decreases except for one. The death toll from drowning/submersion increased by 13%.
The data also revealed some other key findings:
- Overall, nine out of 10 fatal work injuries involved workers in private industry. Service-providing industries in the private sector recorded 48% of all fatal work injuries in 2007, while goods-producing industries recorded 42%.
- In the construction industry, fatalities fell. However, construction continued to produce the most fatalities of any industry in the private sector.
- The four occupations with the highest fatality rates per 100,000 workers were fishers and related fishing workers with a fatality rate of 111, logging workers (86), aircraft pilots and flight engineers (67), and structural iron and steel workers (46).
- Thirty states reported lower numbers of fatal work injuries in 2007 than in 2006, 19 states and the District of Columbia reported higher numbers, and one state was unchanged.