Preliminary CFOI Data Show a Slight Decrease in Workplace Fatalities in 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its preliminary national Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) report for 2011, and the findings show a slight decrease in fatal work injuries compared to the final results published for 2010. Last year, there were 4,609 workplace fatalities, which is down from the final count of 4,690 in 2010. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement in response to the census: "Today's report shows a decline in the number of workplace fatalities. It's a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. We will continue to collaborate with employers, workers, labor leaders, and safety and health professionals to ensure that every American who clocks in for a shift can make it home safe and sound at the end of the day."

Below are some key findings from the 2011 preliminary CFOI data:

  • 25 states and the District of Columbia had fewer fatal workplace injuries in 2011 than in 2010.
  • More fatal work injuries resulted from transportation events in 2011 than any other major event.
  • The transportation and warehousing sector, surpassed construction in having the highest number of fatal injuries in 2011.
  • Fatal work injury rates were highest for fishers, logging workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers in 2011.
  • Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector declined 7 percent to 721 in 2011; the fifth consecutive year of lower fatality counts. Since 2006, fatal construction injuries are down nearly 42 percent.
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals accounted for 780 fatalities, or about 17 percent of the fatal injuries in the workplace in 2011.
  • Fatal work injuries involving workers ages 20 to 24 were up nearly 18 percent.
  • Manufacturing fatalities were slightly lower in 2011 compared to 2010.
  • Fatal work injuries in the professional and business services sector were up 16 percent.

Final Counts Will be Released in Spring 2013

The final CFOI numbers will be released in spring 2013. While not yet certain, if previous years are any indication, a slight increase in the final total can be expected. According to the BLS, over the past 3 years, increases have averaged 166 fatalities per year, or 3 percent of the revised total.

Changes to the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System

BLS recently changed the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) used to describe the characteristics of fatal work injuries. As such, OIICS case characteristics for 2011 represent a break in series compared to data for prior years. More information on the changes and OIICS can be found at www.bls.gov/iif/oshoiics.htm.

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This article comes to us from the editor of MSDSonline's Safety Counts Newsletter, Melissa McCaffrey.

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