Despite the increase, the total for 2004 was the third lowest annual total recorded by the fatality census since it was first conducted in 1992.
The rate at which fatal work injuries occurred in 2004 was 4.1 per 100,000 workers, up slightly from a rate of 4.0 per 100,000 workers in 2002 and 2003. The increase in the fatality rate in 2004 was the first since 1994 when the rate was 5.3 fatalities per 100,000 workers.
Key findings of BLS' 2004 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:
Common types of fatal work incidents:
Fatal work injuries involving falls were up 17 percent in 2004. The 815 fatal falls recorded in 2004 represented the highest annual total ever reported by the fatality census for this event and followed two years of declines. The increase in fatal falls was led by a 39 percent increase in the number of workers who were fatally injured after a fall from a roof (from 128 fatalities in 2003 to 178 in 2004) and a 17 percent increase in the number of fatal falls from ladders (from 114 fatalities in 2003 to 133 in 2004). The totals for falls from roofs and for falls from ladders represented new series highs for these events. About 88 percent of the fatal falls from roofs involved construction workers, compared with about 54 percent for fatal falls overall.
Fatal highway incidents were up slightly in 2004 after declining the two previous years. The 1,374 fatal highway incidents recorded in 2004 represented about one out of every four fatal work injuries in 2004. Although nonhighway incidents (such as those that might occur on a farm or industrial premises) dropped slightly in 2004, other kinds of transportation incidents increased, led by incidents involving workers struck by vehicles or mobile equipment.
The number of workplace homicides recorded in 2004 was down sharply from the number reported in 2003. The 551 workplace homicides in 2004 represented a 13 percent decline from 2003 and was the lowest annual total yet recorded by the fatality census. Overall, workplace homicides are down 49 percent from the high of 1,080 workplace homicides recorded in 1994 (excluding the 2,886 work-related homicides resulting from terrorist attacks of September 11).