Workplace injuries killed 4,547 people in 2010, only four fewer than the number who died in 2009, according to preliminary data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is quite likely, however, that the final death count for 2010 will be significantly higher than the previous year: over the past three years, preliminary data have been revised up by an average of 174 fatalities per year.
Increases to the preliminary numbers occur because of the identification of new cases and revision of existing cases based on documents received after the preliminary data are released. The fatality rate for U.S. workers in 2010 was 3.5, unchanged from 2009. This rate is likely to increase, however, once the preliminary numbers are revised. The U.S. fatality rate has not increased since 2004 when it rose from 4.0 to 4.1.
While 29 fewer people died in both transportation and workplace violence incidents in 2010 as compared to 2009, fires and explosions killed 74 more workers in 2010.
Some industries reported an increased number of deaths in 2010. Mining fatalities rose 74 percent from 2009, as 172 people died as compared to 99 in 2009. Two multiple death incidents contributed to this increase: the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.
Manufacturing fatalities were essentially unchanged at 320, while construction was the only major industry with a significant decline, a ten percent drop from 2009. BLS explains this decline as due to the reduction in the number of hours worked in construction since the economic downturn. On the other hand, with 751 deaths, construction is still the deadliest industry in the country.