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Ken Margolin
Ken Margolin
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Fatal Work Injuries

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Every year, the United States Department of Labor publishes a census of occupational injuries. The census gives some insight into the types of jobs in which workers are most at risk. It is a starting point for analysis of work injuries, why they happen, and how to prevent them.

In 2005, there were 5,702 fatal job-related injuries reported in the United States. This translated to a rate of 4.1 work fatalities for every 100,000 workers. The largest single source of worker deaths was in construction fatalities, although the number of fatalities did decline 4.0% from 2004. Percentages are often misleading – the bottom line is that there were still far more construction deaths than should be the case. Falls continued to be a major cause of work-related deaths, though falls also declined somewhat from 2004. Fatal falls generally occurred from roofs, ladders, stairs, and non-moving vehicles, such as cranes or lifts.

Another major source of work fatalities came from workers being struck by falling, rolling, and sliding objects. As mentioned above, the construction industry was the biggest single source of fatalities, reported construction deaths totaling nearly 1,200 in 2005. Other significant industries in which fatalities occurred were utilities, transportation warehousing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting. The best practices cannot eliminate all work-related deaths, but the best practices must always be the goal.