Logging fatalities in the United States by region, cause of death, and other factors — 1980 through 1988.
An analysis of fatal logging accidents in the United States (US) according to forest region, race, and other factors was performed. Data contained in the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatality (NTOF) surveillance system were searched to identify all work related logging fatalities that occurred from 1980 through 1988. Employment data for the logging industry during this period were obtained from the Bureau of the Census County Business Patterns (CBP) files. The NTOF and CBP data were classified into eight regional groups based on the dominant forest type in each state: Northeast, East, South, Central, Lake States, Plains, Mountain, and Pacific. Fatality rates for African-Americans and whites were analyzed by calculating relative risks (RRs) for African-Americans relative to whites. The regional causes of death were analyzed by nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis statistics. A total of 1,323 logging industry deaths occurred during the study period. After deaths occurring to executives, managers, and administrators were excluded, 1,278 deaths, 1,275 to males, were available for analysis. Of these, 1,067 deaths occurred to white workers and 943 to workers classified occupationally as logger and general laborer. A total of 211 logging deaths occurred to African-American workers. The cumulative fatality rate over the 9 year period for white and African-American workers was 164.4 and 141.1 deaths per 100,000 workers, respectively. The RR for African-Americans relative to white workers was 0.86. When analyzed by individual year, the overall fatality rates varied from 127.6 to 192.1 deaths/100,000. No significant trends were detected. When analyzed by specific logging occupation, fellers, limbers, and buckers sustained the largest number of fatal injuries, 65.5% of the total. The Central and East regions where hardwood sawtimber was logged had the highest fatality rates. The lowest rates occurred in the Lake States and Northeast where conifers and hardwood pulpwood were primarily logged. Being struck by falling objects was the single most important cause of fatal injury, accounting for nearly 50% of the deaths. Falling trees accounted for 68% of these deaths. The authors conclude that regional differences in logging fatality rates exist. No significant race related differences in fatality rates have been detected.