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Counting recognized occupational deaths in the United States.
J Occup Med 1988 Nov; 30(11):868-872
Variances among reports of the total number of work related deaths in the United States in 1984 were analyzed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 3,740 occupationally related deaths in 1984 in an employment population of 68,008,000, the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatality (NTOF) study reported 6,258 deaths among 100,474,000 workers, and the National Safety Council (NSC) estimated 11,500 work related deaths. Data on work related deaths in 1984 were obtained for 26 states from BLS, NIOSH, and from worker's compensation (WC) insurance programs. The states represented 49.7 percent of the U.S. population and 48 percent of the workforce. In the 26 states, NIOSH reported 3,425 work related deaths, WC claims showed 3,027, and BLS estimated 1,770. In 24 of 26 states the BLS estimate was the lowest and in 10 states the BLS figure was less than 50 percent of the next largest number. Correcting the BLS estimate for work force size, heart attacks, and small firm death rate did not reconcile it with the others. The authors calculated a national minimum figure of 7,771 using the higher of NIOSH/WC figures for each state. A second figure of 8,234 was calculated using NIOSH data corrected for death certificate inaccuracies. The BLS figure was considered to be much too low due to underreporting by employers and the omission of small firms. The authors recommend that the findings of the NIOSH NTOF study, including an estimate of unreported deaths, be published regularly as the official U.S. figure.
JOCMA7; NIOSH-Author; Mortality-surveys; Mortality-rates; Accident-statistics; Workplace-studies; Analytical-models; Worker-health
Issue of Publication
Journal of Occupational Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division