Overall number of fatal occupational injuries decline in U.S.

A preliminary total of 4,383 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2012, down from a revised count of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011, according to results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 2012 total represents the second lowest preliminary total since CFOI was first conducted in 1992. The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2012 was 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a rate of 3.5 per 100,000 in 2011.

Characteristic of worker

Fatal work injuries involving workers under 16 years of age nearly doubled, rising from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012 — the highest total since 2005. Fourteen of these young decedents were employed as agricultural workers.

Fatal work injuries in the other age groups declined in 2012. Fatal work injuries among workers 55 years of age and older declined for the second straight year.

Fatal injuries to both wage and salary workers and self-employed workers declined in 2012.

Type of incident

Transportation incidents accounted for more than two out of every five fatal work injuries in 2012. Of the transportation-related fatal injuries, about 58 per cent were roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles. Non-roadway incidents, such as a tractor overturn in a farm field, accounted for another 13 per cent of the transportation-related fatal injuries.

Fatal work injuries among those in aircraft incidents in 2012 declined by 14 per cent from 2011, accounting for 125 fatalities or about seven per cent of the transportation total.

Work-related suicides declined 10 per cent from 2011 totals, but violence accounted for about 17 per cent of all fatal work injuries in 2012.

Fatal falls, slips or trips took the lives of 668 workers in 2012, down slightly from 2011. Falls to a lower level accounted for 544 or about 81 per cent of those fatalities.

While the total number of fatal work injuries involving contact with objects and equipment in 2012 remained about the same as in 2011, the number of workers fatally injured after being struck by objects or equipment increased by seven per cent (to 509 fatal work injuries in 2012 from 476 in 2011).


In the private sector, there were 3,945 fatal work injuries in 2012, down six per cent to a new series low. Both goods-producing industries and service-providing industries showed declines.

Among goods-producing sectors, the number of fatal work injuries in the private construction sector increased five per cent in 2012. Total hours worked were higher by one per cent in 2012.

Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector increased five per cent to 775 in 2012 from 738 in 2011. The increase in fatal occupational injuries in 2012 follows five consecutive years of declining fatal injury counts in the construction sector. Fatal construction injuries are down 37 per cent since 2006.

Fatal work injuries in the private mining sector rose in 2012, led by an increase in fatal injuries to workers in oil and gas extraction industries. Fatal work injuries in oil and gas extraction industries rose 23 per cent to 138 in 2012, reaching a new high for the series.

Fatal work injuries in coal mining increased slightly, and fatal work injuries in support activities for mining increased nine percent.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting fatalities decreased 16 per cent to 475 in 2012 from 566 in 2011. This follows a nine per cent drop in agriculture fatalities in 2011.

Fatal injuries in the crop production, animal production, forestry and logging, and fishing sectors were all lower in 2012. Despite the declines in fatal work injuries in this sector over the last two years, agriculture recorded the highest fatal injury rate of any industry sector at 21.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE workers in 2012.

Among service-providing industries in the private sector, fatal work injuries in transportation and warehousing accounted for 677 fatal work injuries in 2012, a decrease of 10 per cent over the revised 2011 count.

The number of fatal injuries in truck transportation, the largest subsector within transportation and warehousing in terms of employment, decreased six per cent in 2012. (Transportation counts presented are expected to rise when updated 2012 data are released in Spring 2014.)

Among other transportation subsectors, fatal work injuries in air transportation were slightly higher, but fatalities in water and rail transportation were lower in 2012.

Fatal work injuries in the financial activities sector declined 17 per cent in 2012 to 81. The professional and business services sector also reported lower numbers of fatal injuries in 2012, down 10 per cent from 2011.

Fatal occupational injuries among government workers decreased 13 per cent from 2011 to 438 fatal work injuries, the lowest fatal work injury total since the start of the fatality census.