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Economic News Release
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Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2009

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, August 19, 2010							USDL-10-1142
Technical information:	(202) 691-6170 - iifstaff@bls.gov - www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm
Media contact: 	(202) 691-5902 - PressOffice@bls.gov

NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2009 
(PRELIMINARY RESULTS)

A preliminary total of 4,340 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2009, down from a 
final count of 5,214 fatal work injuries in 2008.  The 2009 total represents the smallest annual preliminary 
total since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program was first conducted in 1992.  
Based on this preliminary count, the rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2009 was 3.3 per 
100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a final rate of 3.7 in 2008.  Counts and rates are 
likely to increase with the release of final 2009 CFOI results in April 2011.  Over the last 2 years, 
increases in the published counts based on information received after the publication of preliminary results 
have averaged 156 fatalities per year or about 3 percent of the revised totals. //CFOI Charts PO Test 12092020// 	
  
Economic factors played a major role in the fatal work injury decrease in 2009.  Total hours worked fell by 
6 percent in 2009 following a 1 percent decline in 2008, and some industries that have historically accounted 
for a significant share of fatal work injuries, such as construction, experienced even larger declines in 
employment or hours worked.  In addition, some source documents used by CFOI State partners to identify and 
verify fatal work injuries were delayed, due at least in part to fiscal constraints at some of the 
governmental agencies who regularly provide source documentation for the program. 

Key preliminary findings of the 2009 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

-	Workplace homicides declined 1 percent in 2009, in contrast to an overall decline of 17 percent for 
	all fatal work injuries.  The homicide total for 2009 includes the 13 victims of the November shooting
	at Fort Hood.  Workplace suicides were down 10 percent in 2009 from the series high of 263 in 2008.
-	Though wage and salary workers and self-employed workers experienced similar declines in total hours 
	worked in 2009, fatal work injuries among wage and salary workers in 2009 declined by 20 percent 
	while fatal injuries among self-employed workers were down 3 percent.
-	The wholesale trade industry was one of the few major private industry sectors reporting higher numbers 
	of fatal work injuries in 2009.
-	Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector declined by 16 percent in 2009 following the 
	decline of 19 percent in 2008.
-	Fatalities among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers were down 24 percent.  This worker group 
	also experienced a slightly larger decline in total hours worked than non-Hispanic white or 
	Hispanic workers.	 
-	The number of fatal workplace injuries in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations rose 
	6 percent, one of the few major occupation groups to record an increase in fatal work injuries in 2009.
-	Transportation incidents, which accounted for nearly two-fifths of all the fatal work injuries in 2009, 
	fell 21 percent from the 2,130 fatal work injuries reported in 2008.

Profile of 2009 fatal work injuries by type of incident

Most types of transportation fatalities decreased in 2009 relative to 2008, including highway incidents 
(down 27 percent); workers struck by vehicle or mobile equipment (down 19 percent); aircraft incidents 
(down 18 percent); and nonhighway incidents such as tractor overturns (down 8 percent).  Fatal occupational 
injuries due to water vehicle incidents were higher (82 fatalities in 2009, up from 76 in 2008).  These and 
other transportation counts presented in this release will likely rise when updated 2009 data are released 
in April 2011.  Key source documentation detailing specific incidents related to transportation has not yet 
been received and could identify 100 or more cases if recent trends hold true.
 
Workplace homicides fell by 1 percent in 2009, in contrast to the 17 percent decrease in fatal work injuries 
overall.  The preliminary workplace homicide count for 2009 (521 cases) represents a decline of about half 
from the high of 1,080 homicides reported in 1994.  Workplace suicides declined 10 percent from a series high 
of 263 cases in 2008 to 237 cases in 2009.  However, this 2009 preliminary count of workplace suicides is the 
second highest annual total reported by the fatality census.

Fatal falls declined 12 percent in 2009 (from 700 in 2008 to 617 in 2009).  Overall, fatal falls are down 
27 percent from the series high of 847 fatal falls reported in 2007.  About half of all fatal falls occur in 
construction, so the decline in overall construction activity and employment since 2007 may account for the 
lower number of fatal falls over the past 2 years.  Fatalities involving contact with objects or equipment 
were down 22 percent in 2009 after increasing in 2008, and fatal work injuries involving exposure to harmful 
substances or environments (such as electrocutions) were down 11 percent.

Profile of fatal work injuries by industry sector

Overall, 90 percent of the fatal work injuries involved workers in private industry.  Service-providing 
industries in the private sector recorded 49 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2009, while 41 percent 
were in goods-producing industries.  Ten percent of the fatal work injury cases in 2009 involved government 
workers.  The number of fatal work injuries in both the private and public sectors declined by 17 percent 
in 2009.
 
While workers in construction incurred the most fatal injuries of any industry in the private sector in 2009, 
the number of fatalities in construction declined 16 percent in 2009 after a decline of 19 percent in 2008.  
With this decrease, private construction fatalities are down by more than a third since reaching a series 
high in 2006.  Economic conditions may explain much of this decline with total hours worked having declined 
17 percent in construction in 2009, after a decline of 10 percent the year before.  Fatal injuries involving 
workers in the construction of buildings were down 27 percent from 2008, with most of the decrease occurring 
in nonresidential building construction (down 44 percent to 55 cases).  Heavy and civil engineering 
construction was down 12 percent, and the subsector with the largest number of fatal work injuries, 
specialty trade contractors, had 16 percent fewer fatalities in 2009 than in 2008.
 
Fatal injuries were down by 18 percent among private sector workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, 
and hunting industry sector in 2009.  Fatal injuries to workers in forestry and logging led the decrease, 
declining 50 percent (from 102 in 2008 to 51 in 2009).  Unlike most industries in the sector, fatal 
injuries among fishing, hunting, and trapping workers were higher.  Fatal work injuries also declined in 
mining (down 43 percent) and in manufacturing (down 26 percent).  

Among service-providing industries, fatal work injuries in the transportation and warehousing sector accounted 
for 579 fatalities, a 27 percent decrease.  Truck transportation, the largest subsector within 
transportation and warehousing, had a 32 percent decrease in fatalities in 2009.  Among other transportation 
subsectors, workers in air, rail, and water transportation all incurred fewer fatal work injuries in 2009. 

Wholesale trade was one of the few major private industry sectors to record a higher number of fatal injuries 
in 2009 than in 2008.  Fatal injuries were up 3 percent in wholesale trade in 2009, but were down slightly 
in retail trade.  Fatal work injuries in the utilities and information industries were down sharply, but 
declines in most of the other service industries were more moderate, including financial activities 
(down 5 percent),  professional and business services (down 2 percent), educational and health services 
(down 4 percent), and leisure and hospitality (down 9 percent).

Fatal injuries among government workers were down 17 percent.  While fatalities incurred by state and local 
government workers decreased in 2009, fatalities among federal government workers were higher (up 7 percent 
to 116 fatal work injuries in 2009), largely due to an increase in the national security subsector 
(resident military). 

Profile of fatal work injuries by occupation

Fatal work injuries involving workers in transportation and material moving occupations accounted for more 
than one-fifth of all occupational fatalities in 2009, though fatalities in this occupational group declined 
by 28 percent.  Driver/sales workers and truck drivers, the subgroup with the highest number of fatal work 
injuries within the transportation and material moving group, led the decline with 32 percent fewer fatal work 
injuries in 2009 than in 2008.
 
Fatal work injuries in construction and extraction occupations decreased by 16 percent in 2009 after declining 
17 percent the previous year.  Construction trades worker fatalities were down 16 percent (from 726 in 2008 to 
607 in 2009), though fatal work injuries were higher in 2009 for electricians, plumbers, and carpenters, 
among others.  Fatal work injuries involving construction laborers, the worker subgroup accounting for the 
highest number of fatalities in this occupational group, declined by 7 percent in 2009 to 224 fatal
work injuries.

Fatal work injuries among protective service occupations fell by 21 percent in 2009 and are down 30 percent 
from the high for the series reported in 2007.  Fewer fatalities among law enforcement workers, fire fighting 
and prevention workers, and security guards led the decline in this occupational group in 2009.

The building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupational group was among the few occupation groups 
with a higher number of fatal injuries in 2009 (up 6 percent), led by an increase in fatal work injuries 
among grounds maintenance personnel (up 12 percent to 147 fatalities).

Fatal work injuries involving resident military personnel were also higher, up 21 percent in 2009 to 
69 fatalities.

Profile of fatal work injuries by demographic characteristics

The number of fatal work injuries fell 16 percent among non-Hispanic white workers in 2009 and declined 
17 percent among Hispanic or Latino workers.  The largest decline was among non-Hispanic black or 
African-American workers who recorded a 24 percent decline in fatalities in 2009.  Since 2007, fatal work 
injuries among black workers have declined by a third.  Total hours worked were down 8 percent in 2009 for 
black workers, as opposed to 7 percent for Hispanic or Latino workers and 6 percent for non-Hispanic 
white workers. 	 

The decline in fatal work injuries among Hispanic or Latino workers in 2009 primarily involved foreign-born 
Hispanic or Latino workers.  Fatalities among foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers were lower by 22 percent, 
but among native-born Hispanics, the decline was 9 percent.  While the 680 fatal work injuries incurred by 
workers who were born outside of the United States accounted for 16 percent of all fatal work injuries in the 
U.S. in 2009, that total also represented a decline of 19 percent from 2008.  Of the foreign-born workers 
who were fatally-injured in the U.S. in 2009, the largest share (40 percent) was Mexican-born.

Total hours worked for both self-employed and wage and salary workers declined by 6 percent in 2009.  However, 
self-employed workers had a 3 percent decline in fatalities, while fatalities among wage and salary workers 
fell by 20 percent.  The fatality rate for self-employed workers was higher in 2009 (12.0 fatal work injuries 
per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers versus 11.6 in 2008) while the fatality rate for wage and salary 
workers was lower. 

Workplace fatalities among both male and female workers decreased in 2009.  The number of fatalities declined 
for all age categories in 2009 except for workers under the age of 16, whose total rose slightly.

Profile of fatal work injuries by state

Thirty-seven states reported lower numbers of fatal work injuries in 2009 than in 2008, while 13 states and the 
District of Columbia reported higher numbers.
  
For more detailed state results, contact the individual state agency responsible for the collection of CFOI data in 
that state.  Although data for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are not included in the national totals for this 
release, results for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are available.  Participating agencies and their telephone 
numbers are listed in Table 6.

Background of the program

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), part of the BLS Occupational Safety and Health Statistics (OSHS) 
program, compiles a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. during the calendar year.  The CFOI 
program uses diverse state, federal, and independent data sources to identify, verify, and describe fatal work 
injuries.  This assures counts are as complete and accurate as possible.  For the 2009 data, over 17,000 unique 
source documents were reviewed as part of the data collection process.

Another OSHS program, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), presents frequency counts and 
incidence rates by industry and also by detailed case circumstances and worker characteristics of nonfatal 
workplace injuries and illnesses that result in days away from work.  Incidence rates for 2009 by industry 
will be published in October 2010, and information on 2009 case circumstances and worker characteristics 
will be available in November 2010.  For additional data, access the BLS Internet site: http://www.bls.gov/iif/.

Beginning with 2009 data, the CFOI program began classifying industry using the 2007 version of the North American
Industry Classification System (NAICS 2007).  Industry data from 2003 to 2008 were classified using the 
NAICS 2002.  NAICS 2007 includes revisions across several sectors.  The most significant revisions are in 
the information sector, particularly within telecommunications.  For more information, 
go to http://www.bls.gov/bls/naics.htm.

For technical information about and definitions for the CFOI program, please go to the BLS Handbook of Methods on 
the BLS web site here: http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch9_a1.htm.   

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Last Modified Date: December 09, 2020