2006 WV Statistics




Washington, DC - Fewer Americans are dying at work.  It's a long-term trend in workplace safety that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the nation's top public-health authority, considers "one of the greatest health achievements in the 20th century."  Today's workplaces are roughly 40,000 lives a year safer than they were in the 1930s, according to the CDC.  By way of comparison, 40,000 U.S. women died of breast cancer last year and 42,000 Americans died on highways.  Analysts say the biggest factors in improving workplace safety are:


        ·         The expansion of U.S. service industries, which are relatively safe.

·         Tougher worker-safety standards, whether voluntary or imposed under laws such as the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act.

·         The reduction or export of high-risk mining, metals and manufacturing jobs.

·         An increase in the number of working women, whose accident rate is about a tenth that of men.

·         A decline in the number of small farms, where worker fatalities always have been high. "The kids didn't get to use the new $50,000 tractor," explained Guy Toscano, the retired director of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "They got the old one without the roll bar and the other safety equipment."

The latest numbers, released in August, showed that commercial fishing is the most dangerous U.S. job.  Logging is second, followed by piloting or navigating planes, working in structural iron and steel on construction sites, and collecting refuse.  The safest fields are office work and professions such as law, medicine, accounting and architecture.

Overall, workplace deaths totaled 5,702 for 2005, about 200 shy of the all-time low in 2003.

Three of the four leading causes of workplace fatalities are holding steady:  highway deaths, falls and a category called “struck by object.”  There’s been progress in the fourth:  homicides.  Convenience store employees and gas station operators – all of whom work with cash at night, often alone, and in all kinds of neighborhoods – are the main beneficiaries.  About 75 percent of workplace killings begin as robberies.


For cabbies, the lifesavers are video cameras and partitions that separate drivers and passengers, according to Lucille Burrascano, a retired New York police detective who’s worked on the cab-violence problem for 25 years.  In 1981, she said, cabdriver fatalities in the city totaled 26.  This year to date there’s been only one.


For convenience store and gas station workers, one key was better lighting and visibility inside and out, according to workplace-violence consultant Rosemary Erickson, the president of Athena Research Corp. of San Diego, CA, and Sioux Falls, SD.  Among her clients:  7-Eleven, Burger King, Wawa Food stores and British Petroleum.


Employees are instructed to cooperate when robbers confront them.  Stores also discourage robbers with perimeter fencing that makes it harder to escape, plus drop boxes for cash and big signs noting that the register holds $40 cash or less.


The last strategy, along with many of the others, reflects insights that Erickson gained from interviewing more than 400 adult and teen robbers in Texas prisons.  Among her findings was that $50 in cash motivated far more robbers than $40 did.


The BLS reports that workplace homicides in 2005 were down to 564 from a 1994 peak of 1,080.  Here are the year-by-year numbers of U.S. workplace homicides from 1992 through 2005:

·           1992 - 1,044

·           1993 - 1,074

·           1994 - 1,080

·           1995 - 1,036

·           1996 - 927

·           1997 - 860

·           1998 - 714

·           1999 - 651

·           2000 - 677

·           2001 - 643

·           2002 - 609

·           2003 - 632

·           2004 - 559

·           2005 - 564