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US workplace fatalities up 3% in 2010

11 May 2012

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics says there were 4,690 work-related deaths in 2010, up 3% on the total for the previous year. In a new report, the Bureau says the higher number in part reflects a string of high-profile disasters in 2010. 

These include the Upper Big Branch coal mine blast in West Virginia which killed 29, BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico which killed 11 and a blast at the Tesoro oil refinery in Washington State which killed seven.

Even discounting the deaths from those three events, the toll rose in 2010. In 2009, 4,551 workers died, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fatality rate rose slightly as well, from 3.5 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers to 3.6.

The number of workers killed in fires or explosions jumped from 113 in 2009 to 191 in 2010. Work-related transportation deaths increased from 1,795 to 1,857, and suicides from 263 to 270.

The number of construction-related deaths fell from 834 to 774 — a probable reflection of a weak housing market and a generally depressed economy in 2010.

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