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Work-related deaths dropped sharply during 1983, BLS survey finds.

A total of 3,100 job-related deaths occurred in private sector establishments employing 11 workers or more in 1983, compared with 4,090 fatalities in 1982, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates. Correspontingly, the fatality incidence rate dropped from 7.4 per 100,000 full-time workers in 1982 down to 5.6 in 1983, continuing a

5-year trend. (See table 1.) This decline occurred despite a

4-percent increase in employment among those firms.

Both the reported number of job-related deaths and the fatality rates decreased in all eight industry divisions between 1982 and 1983. (See tables 2 and 3.) A high of 730 lives were lost in manufacturing industries in 1983, and a low of 70 in finance, insurance, and real estate industries. Mining industries had the highest fatality rate of 27.6 and finance, insurance, and real estate industries had the lowest rate of 1.7 per 100,000 full-time workers. Roughly 400 of the 3,100 reported deaths involved a job-related illness.

The fatality data are based on reports received from a sample of employers selected randomly for the Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Participating employers provided a brief description of the object or event most directly responsible for the death.

Although the sample for this survey is fairly large, the fatality results present a wide range of analytical problems which make it difficult to compare year-to-year changes precisely. Because the sampling errors are relatively large even at the industry division level, the fatalities are classified into broad causal categories and represent the average for the 1982 and 1983 surveys.

Analysis by cause

During 1982 and 1983, four causal categories accounted for the majority of deaths in the private sector: highway vehicles, falls, heart attacks, and industrial vehicles or equipment. (See table 4.) Nearly three-tenths of all deaths were attributed to car and truck accidents; about one-tenth each involved falls, heart attacks, and industrial vehicles or equipment. The remaining deaths were caused by assaults, electrocutions, entrapments or strikes by objects other than vehicles or equipment, aircraft crashes, explosions, fires, plant machinery operations, and gas inhalations.

Highway vehicles were the leading cause of work-related deaths in 6 of the 8 industry divisions and caused nearly 30 percent of the total fatalities. As in previous years, highway vehicles were responsible for the most fatalities in the industries of mining--oil and gas extraction only; manufacturing; transportation and public utilities; finance, insurance, and real estate; and services.2 Along with lethal assaults, they were a major cause of death in the wholesale and retail trade industry. The largest percentage--about one-third--of highway fatalities occurred in the transportation and public utilities industry. (See table 5.) Some of these deaths involved collisions or single vehicle accidents, such as overturning or running off the roadway, while others occurred at the worksite when employees were run over.

Falls were responsible for nearly 12 percent of all fatalities. About 2 of 5 of these fatalities involved construction workers and another 1 of 5 occurred

in the manufacturing industry. Some of the workers lost their lives from falling off scaffolds and others by falling into plant machinery.

Heart attacks caused approximately 11 percent of all job-related deaths. One-half of these fatalities were in the construction and manufacturing industries and a fifth occurred in the services industry.

Industrial vehicles or equipment such as tractors and high-lift trucks were involved in nearly 10 percent of all fatalities. The construction and manufacturing industries combined accounted for more than half of these deaths. A tenth of the deaths were experienced in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry.

Fatalities involving contact with carcinogenic or toxic substances, drowning, train accidents, and various occupational illnesses were included in the "all other" category, which accounted for 3 percent of the total.

Analysis by industry

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Industrial vehicles or equipment were involved in 25 percent of the fatalities in this industry while highway vehicles accounted for 24 percent of the job-related deaths. Thirteen percent of the deaths involved falls and 12 percent, electrocutions.

Mining--oil and gas extraction only. Highway vehicles accounted for 18 percent of the fatalities and industrial vehicles or equipment were responsible for 14 percent. Employees struck by falling or flying objects--other than vehicles or equipment--accounted for 13 percent of the fatalities, and falls were associated with 11 percent.

Construction. Employees who died after falling accounted for 26 percent of the recorded cases. Highway vehicles accounted for 16 percent and industrial vehicles or equipment were involved in 15 percent of the deaths. Heart attacks and electrocutions were each responsible for 13 percent of the cases.

Manufacturing. Twenty percent of the fatalities involved highway vehicles and 12 percent were attributable to industrial vehicles or equipment. Heart attacks and falls accounted for 11 and 9 percent of the deaths.

Transportation and public utilities. As in previous years, almost one-half of all fatalities involved highway vehicles. Employees who were entrapped by objects other than vehicles or equipment accounted for 11 percent of the deaths.

Wholesale and retail trade. Highway vehicles and assaults, where robbery was generally the motive, each accounted for 28 percent of the reported deaths.

Finance, insurance, and real estate. Highway vehicles caused virtually one-half of the fatalities. Falls and heart attacks were each associated with 13 percent of the fatal cases.

Services. Almost one-third of the deaths involved highway vehicles and one-fifth resulted from heart attacks.

Background of survey

The Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses is a Federal-State program in which employers in private industry maintain records and under The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Excluded from this survey are the self-employed, farmers with fewer than 11 employees, private households, employees in the Federal, State, and local government agencies, and those establishments in which working conditions are covered by other Federal safety and health laws.

Since 1977, the data on occupational fatalities reflect only those deaths in establishments with 11 employees or more. The 1982 survey entitled "BLS" 1982 survey of work-related deaths" was published in the Monthly Labor Review, March 1984, pp. 43--45.

The 1983 survey comprised a sample of 280,000 units. The relative standard errors, which are a measure of the sampling error in the estimates, are given in the following tabulation and are to be used only in conjunction with the numbers of fatalities or the incidents rate for 1982 and 1983 shown in tables 1 through 3.
COPYRIGHT 1985 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Author:Cotter, Diane M.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Sep 1, 1985
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