A preliminary survey from the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries revealed dramatically decreasing workplace fatality rates for 2009. The number of workplace deaths in the U.S. fell from 5214 in 2008 to 4340 last year. The survey noted that the majority of this decrease can be attributed to economic factors resulting in fewer employees and fewer working hours in 2009 as compared to 2008.
However, the survey also reveals a continuing decreasing trend in workplace fatalities that may be independent of these economic factors. The death rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers dropped from 3.7 to 3.3 in the 2009 survey. Some of this drop may be attributable to a decrease in construction activity in the U.S., which is a source of a significant percentage of workplace fatalities. Even accounting for this factor, death rates in other industries, including workplace homicides, decreased in 2009.
These survey results continue a long-term trend of decreasing workplace fatality rates in the U.S. Whether based on economic factors, better industry safety practices or other reasons, American workplaces are considerably safer than was the case in preceding decades.