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State sees decline in number of workplace deaths

Many workers in Pennsylvania consider the possibility of being injured on the job. Workplace accidents happen quite often and can be out of the victim's control. And while injuries are a legitimate concern, a more serious worry is the potential that an on-the-job injury could result in a fatality. The number of workplace fatalities seen in 2011 is addressed in a recent report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the federal Department of Labor.

According to data from the report, Pennsylvania saw fewer work-related deaths in 2011 than it did in the previous year. In 2010, there were 221 fatal workplace injuries while the next year saw only 186, a decline of 16 percent. According to an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a good sign. The official reported that in seven years of the last decade, the number of fatalities in the state has been higher than 200. The decline comes after an upward trend in recent years, so it is welcome news to workers across Pennsylvania.

On the national level, a 1.7 percent decrease was seen during the same time frame. In 2010, there were 4,690 workplace deaths and in 2011 there were 4,609. This difference is not as marked as the one seen on the state level.

In addition to general figures, the BLS report breaks down the fatalities by industry and event. During 2011, there were 69 workers killed by transportation events. Thirty-four were killed by slips and falls while another 32 lost their lives due to contact with equipment and objects. Together, these three categories accounted for about 75 percent of the deaths seen in Pennsylvania workplaces that year.

The report indicates that the higher number of Pennsylvania fatalities belonged to the transportation sector with 34. According to the data, 30 people were killed by construction accidents. Demographic data showed that 90 percent of the fatalities involved men and more than 80 percent of the deaths were white people. Nearly 55 percent of the victims were workers aged 25 to 54 years old.

Source: Citizens' Voice, "Workplace fatalities down in Pennsylvania," James Haggerty, Jan. 4, 2013

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Gregory R. Gifford
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