A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

September 16, 2009

2008 Workplace Fatality Data:

Most Injuries Down, Fire and Suicides Up

The Bureau of Labor Standards reports 5,071 fatal work injuries occurred in the U.S. in 2008, down from 5,657 for 2007. Although these results are preliminary, they represent the smallest annual preliminary total since 1992, when the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program began.
Based on preliminary counts, the rate of fatal work injuries for U.S. workers in 2008 was 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from the final rate of 4.0 in 2007. These numbers are no doubt
impacted by the increasing unemployment rate and economic conditions of 2008, especially the downturn in construction.

Key findings of the 2008 fatal injuries census:
  • Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector in 2008 declined by 20 percent from the updated 2007 total, twice the all-worker decline of 10 percent.
  • Fatal workplace falls, which had risen to a series high in 2007, also declined by 20 percent in 2008.
  • Fatalities from fires and explosions increased 16 percent to some 152 cases. 
  • Workplace suicides were up 28 percent to a series high of 251 cases in 2008, but workplace homicides declined 18 percent in 2008.
  • The number and rate of fatal work injuries among 16 to 17 year-old workers were higher in 2008.
  • Fatal occupational injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers in 2008 were 17 percent lower than in 2007. Fatalities among non-Hispanic Black or African American workers were down 16 percent.
  • The number of fatal workplace injuries in farming, fishing and forestry occupations rose 6 percent in 2008 after declining in 2007.
  • Transportation incidents, which accounted for approximately two-fifths of all the workplace fatalities in 2008, fell 13 percent from the previous series low of 2,351 cases reported in 2007.
For more information:
- Visit the BLS injuries, illnesses and fatalities page.
- Browse PPE signs and labels at
- Post Flammable and Explosives signs and labels to identify workplace hazards.