Work Injury Deaths Down Last Year


Story Filed: Thursday, August 17, 2000 5:09 EDT


WASHINGTON (AP)  -- There were 6,023 Americans who died from injuries at work last year, 32 fewer than in 1998 despite an increase in employment, the Labor Department reported Thursday.


The 1999 figure – about 17 fatal injuries each day – was the lowest since the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track in 1992.  The unemployment rate for U.S. civilian workers declined from 4.5 percent in 1998 to 4.2 percent in 1999.


There were 6,055 job-related deaths in 1998 and 6,238 in 1997.


In the latest report, declines in job-related murders and deaths from electrocution were offset by increases in workers struck by falling objects or caught in running machinery.


The construction industry reported the largest number of fatal work injuries, 341.


The report “shows that we must do more to prevent workplace fatalities in the construction industry, just as we have reduced homicides in the workplace, especially in retail establishments,” Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said in a statement.  “No workers should have to sacrifice their lives for their livelihoods.”


The number of people murdered at work fell to 645 last year from 714 in 1998 and 860 in 1997.  That bumped homicide from the second-leading cause of workplace deaths to the third, behind highway crashes involving truck drivers and workers struck by vehicles, and work-related falls.


Most workplace homicides are related to robberies.  Herman noted that the Labor Department had provided violence-prevention guidance to taxi companies and retailers.


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