Plant deaths fall 14.0%

Work-related deaths at U.S. manufacturing plants declined 14.0 percent in 2007, marking a rebound from the 16.0 percent increase that occurred in 2006. This was among the findings of the new Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report released recently by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS cited 392 fatalities at American manufacturing plants last year. In comparison, the final-version report for 2006 cited 456 plant fatalities. The 2007 total equates to an incident rate of 2.4 fatalities per 100,000 employed workers. The incident rate for 2006 was 2.7.

Decreases in fatalities in the primary metals (44.4 percent), non-metallic mineral products (39.0 percent), transportation equipment (33.3 percent) and machinery (30.3 percent) segments of the manufacturing industry were largely responsible for the drop in rate and total cases. The only significant increase came in fabricated metal products manufacturing (54.3 percent).

Adding all sectors of U.S. industry, the BLS report cited 5,488 work-related fatalities, a decline of 6.0 percent from the revised total of 5,840 fatalities documented for 2006. The overall incident rate of 3.7 per 100,000 employed workers was lower than 2006 (4.0).

Among 15 industry sectors broken down in the report, manufacturing ranked sixth in fatalities. Construction (1,178); transportation and warehousing (836); and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (573) were the sectors with the most fatalities. Manufacturing tied for ninth in incident rate. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (27.3); mining (24.8); and transportation and warehousing (15.9) had the three highest incident rates.

Also of note in the 2007 data:

Sector-wide fatal falls rose to a series high of 835, a 39 percent increase since 1992. Manufacturing accounted for 48 fatal falls, 10 fewer than in 2006.

35.5 percent of manufacturing fatalities (139 total) were the result of "contact with objects and equipment"; 26 percent (102 total) were the result of "transportation incidents".

Sector-wide workplace homicides rose 13 percent to 610; 35 fatalities from "assaults and violent acts" occurred in manufacturing. You can access the entire report at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

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