Data from two national surveillance systems was compared regarding fatal occupational injuries occurring in United States industries in 1984. The two data bases used were the NIOSH Health National Traumatic Occupational Facility (NTOF) and the data base for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The NTOF data base contains information obtained from death certificates of United States residents who died as a result of a work related injury. According to both data bases, the industries with the highest traumatic occupational fatality rates in 1984 were mining and construction, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing which ranked together as third, and transportation and public utilities which ranked together as fourth. These data base projects shared a common goal of describing the occupational fatality picture in the US to provide information needed to develop preventive methods and target such efforts toward high risk worker groups. The results of the NTOF survey suggested that most traumatic occupational fatalities are preventable. The limited ability to identify problem areas due to lack of adequate, detailed information, has hampered successful implementation of prevention efforts. The NTOF census provided the more complete information of the two data bases, including information on demographics. The author concludes that now is is not only possible to identify specific industries where the risk of injury is high, but also information is now available for aiming injury prevention strategies at high risk worker groups to reduce the staggering number of workers killed on the job.