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Work-related deaths in 1984: BLS survey findings.

Work-related deaths in 1984: BLS survey findings

The number of occupational fatalities in private sector establishments with 11 employees or more was 3,740 in 1984, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. (See table 1.) The corresponding fatality rate was 6.4 per 100,000 full-time workers. About 3,300 of all deaths were related to injuries.

Among industry divisions, fatality rates ranged from 41.4 per 100,000 full-time workers in mining to 1.9 in finance, insurance, and real estate. (See table 2.) A high of 800 lives were lost in manufacturing and a low of 80, in finance, insurance, and real estate.

The fatality data are based on reports received from a sample of employers selected randomly. Participating employers provided a brief description of the object or event most directly responsible for the death. Although the sample for this survey is large (280,000 units), reported fatalities (3,740) are relatively rare events which make it tenuous to compare year-to-year changes precisely. The fatalities are classified into broad causal categories, and estimates of the percentages of fatalities are based on the total number of reported cases for the 1983 and 1984 surveys.

Analysis by cause and industry

The majority of deaths from occupational accidents in the private sector were grouped into four causal categories: highway vehicles, industrial vehicles or equipment, falls, and electrocutions. (See table 3.) Cars and trucks were involved in more than one-fourth of the work-related deaths; heart attacks caused about one-eighth; and industrial vehicles or equipment, falls, and electrocutions each contributed roughly one-tenth. The remaining deaths were related to assaults, entrapments, explosions, aircraft crashes, gas inhalation, plant machinery operations, fires, objects other than vehicles or equipment, and other causes.

Highway vehicles were the leading cause of death in 6 of the 8 industry divisions. Cars and trucks were responsible for the largest percentage of fatalities in the industries of agriculture, forestry, and fishing; manufacturing; transportation and public utilities; wholesale and retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; and services. About 30 percent of these over-the-road fatalities occurred in the transportation and public utilities industry, which had only 7 percent of total employment. (See table 4.) Some of these deaths were the result of employees being run over at the worksite, overturning vehicles, and collisions.

Industrial vehicles or equipment, such as tractors and high-lift trucks, were involved in nearly 11 percent of all fatalities. The construction and manufacturing industries each accounted for about one-fourth of these fatalities. These industries accounted for about 5 and 28 percent of total employment.

Approximately 11 percent of all fatalities involved falls, particularly from higher levels. More than 2 of every 5 of these deaths occurred in construction industries.

Electrocutions were the cause of roughly 10 percent of all fatalities. Almost three-tenths occurred in construction industries, and nearly one-fourth were in manufacturing industries. Some electrocutions resulted from workers receiving a severe shock after coming in contact with electrical wires.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Highway vehicles accounted for the plurality of the fatalities, followed by industrial vehicles or equipment, and then heart attacks.

Mining--oil and gas extraction only.1 Accidents involving industrial vehicles or equipment, highway vehicles, and falling objects--other than vehicles or equipment--were the primary causes of death.

Construction. Deaths which occurred as the result of an employee falling were the most common, followed by accidents involving highway vehicles, and industrial vehicles or equipment.

Manufacturing. Highway vehicles were the primary cause of death; industrial vehicles or equipment, heart attacks, and electrocutions were also leading causes.

Transportation and public utilities. Highway vehicles were the main cause of death; heart attacks and industrial vehicles or equipment were also important causes.

Wholesale and retail trade. Primary causes of death involved highway vehicles, industrial vehicles or equipment, and assaults.

Finance, insurance, and real estate. Highway vehicles caused the majority of the fatalities, and heart attacks accounted for another large portion.

Services. Highway vehicles were the major cause of death; heart attacks and electrocutions were other chief causes.

Background of the survey

The 1984 Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, authorized by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, surveyed all employers except the self-employed, farmers with fewer than 11 employees, private households, Federal, State, and local government agencies, employers with fewer than 11 employees in low-risk industries, and those establishments in which working conditions are covered by other Federal safety and health laws.

Since 1977, the published data on occupational fatalities reflect only those deaths in establishments with 11 employees or more. The 1983 report on the survey of occupational fatalities entitled, "Work-related deaths dropped sharply during 1983, BLS survey finds,' was published in the Monthly Labor Review, September 1985, pp. 41-44.

The 1984 survey was comprised of a smple 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 in percent and are to be used only in conjunction with the numbers of fatalities or the incidence rate for 1984 shown in tables 1 and 2:


1 The Mine Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Federal Railroad Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation provided data for the number of deaths in coal, metal, and nonmetal mining and railroads but not for the objects or events involved in the cases.

Table: 1. Number and rate of fatalities for employers with 11 employees or more, private sector, 1974 through 1984

Table: 2. Number and rate of occupational fatalities for employers with 11 employees or more, by industry division, 1983-1984

Table: 3. Distribution of fatalities by cause for employers with 11 employees or more, private sector, 1983 and 1984

Table: 4. Distribution of fatalities by industry division for employers with 11 employees or more, private sector, 1983 and 1984

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Title Annotation:Bureau of Labor Statistics
Author:Cotter, Diane M.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:May 1, 1986
Previous Article:Computer-aided telephone interviewing used in the Hours at Work Survey.
Next Article:Union membership of employed wage and salary workers.

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