Who’s got the most dangerous job?

A national census of fatal occupational injuries for the year 2000 has been released containing some information that could be good news and bad news for professional truckers. The decline in fatal injuries to truckers was down 5 percent, but the total fatalities among this group still topped the statistics.A total of 5,915 fatal work injuries were recorded in 2000, a decline of about 2 percent from 1999, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. The decline occurred even though overall employment increased in 2000. The number of job-related deaths from highway incidents, the most frequent fatal work injury, declined for the first time since the fatality census was first conducted in 1992. Fatalities resulting from electrocutions, fires and explosions, and contact with objects or equipment also were down in 2000. Fatal job-related falls and homicides both increased. Although the number of fatal highway incidents was down, about 9 percent from 1999 levels, highway crashes continued to be the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities in 2000, accounting for nearly a quarter of the fatal work injury total. In other transportation incidents, fatal work injuries resulting from workers being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment also dropped slightly in 2000. In contrast, however, the number of workers killed in non-highway incidents (such as tractor overturns or incidents in which workers fell from and were struck by mobile equipment) increased from 352 in 1999 to 399 in 2000. The number of workers killed in aircraft and railway events also increased in 2000, though water vehicle incidents declined. Deaths resulting from on-the-job falls increased slightly to 734 in 2000 – the largest annual total recorded by the fatality census. Fatalities resulting from falls from ladders and from nonmoving vehicles were both higher in 2000, though falls from scaffolds, building girders and roofs were down. Falls on the same level declined from 70 to 56 in 2000. The number of job-related homicides increased for the first time in six years (from 651 in 1999 to 677 in 2000). However, the total number of workplace homicides in 2000 was still 37 percent lower than the high of 1,080 homicides reported in 1994. For those workplace homicides where the motive could be ascertained, homicides in which robbery was the initial motive increased from 255 cases in 1999 to 291 cases in 2000. Fewer workers were killed by electrocution than in any year since the fatality census was first conducted. The number of fatal injuries resulting from fires or explosions in 2000 fell from its highest annual total in 1999 to its lowest annual total since 1992. The number of workers who were fatally injured through contact with objects or equipment also was down from the previous year, but still accounted for nearly one out of every six fatal work injuries in 2000. Construction again recorded the highest number of fatal work injuries of any industry, although the total for the industry was down about 3 percent in 2000 – the first decline for construction since 1996. Fatal work injuries in manufacturing (down 7 percent) and in agriculture, forestry and fishing (down 12 percent) reached the lowest levels recorded for those industries. The decrease in agriculture, forestry and fishing occurred despite an increase in the number of fatal work injuries in landscape and horticultural services. The number of fatal work injuries in the mining industry, however, was higher in 2000, led by an increase in fatal injuries in the oil and gas extraction industry. Fatalities also were higher in retail trade, largely as a result of the increase in workplace homicides. Fatal work injuries in the services industry increased about 4 percent in 2000. Fatalities in business services increased, led by a rise in work-related deaths in personnel supply services. Educational services and membership organizations were some of the other industry groups in services recording increases in 2000. Health services, personal services (such as laundry services and beauty shops) and amusement/recreation services were among the service industries recording lower fatal work injury counts. Rates of fatal work injury in 2000 were highest in the mining, agriculture, construction and transportation industries. The mining industry recorded a rate of 30.0 fatal work injuries per 100,000 workers in 2000, the highest of any industry and about 7 times the rate for all workers. Agriculture recorded the second highest rate in 2000 (20.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers). Despite an increase in the number of incidents in the services industry and in retail trade, the rates for both these industries remained relatively low (2.0 for services and 2.7 for retail trade). Operators, fabricators and laborers recorded the largest number of fatal work injuries of any occupational group in 2000, accounting for more than one out of every three fatalities. However, the number of fatalities for this group was down 4 percent from 1999, and fatal work injuries involving transportation and material moving occupations were down 4 percent. Service occupation fatalities also were lower in 2000, despite an increase in fatalities involving police and detectives. Fatal work injuries involving farming, forestry and fishing occupations were down sharply, from 904 in 1999 to 806 in 2000 –a decline of 11 percent. Two other occupational groups – managerial and professional specialty occupations and technical, sales and administrative support occupations – recorded increases in 2000. Truckdrivers were fatally injured on the job more than any other individual occupation, although fatal work injuries for this occupation declined 5 percent in 2000. Fatalities involving airplane pilots and navigators rose from 94 in 1999 to 130 in 2000. The fatality rate for this occupation (100.8 for every 100,000 employed) was exceeded only by timber cutters (122.1) and fishers (108.3). The numbers of fatal work injuries among white (non-Hispanic) and black (non-Hispanic) workers were lower in 2000, but fatal injuries among Hispanic or Latino workers were up sharply, from 729 in 1999 to 815 in 2000. This increase in Hispanic worker fatalities was led by a 24 percent jump in construction fatalities involving Hispanic workers. Nationally, Hispanic employment was up 6 percent in 2000. Fatal work injuries to men were down nearly 3 percent, although fatalities to women increased slightly in 2000. There was an increase in self-employed workers fatally injured on the job (up 3 percent in 2000). Self-employed workers, who constitute only 7 percent of employment, accounted for 20 percent of the fatality total. On average, about 16 workers were fatally injured each day during 2000. There were 214 multiple-fatality incidents (incidents that resulted in two or more worker deaths), resulting in 531 job-related deaths. The multiple-fatality count for 2000 represents a substantial decrease over the 1999 count when 235 multiple-fatality events were reported involving 617 job-related deaths.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia reported fewer fatal work injuries in 2000 than in 1999.