An analysis of trends in occupational injury mortality rates in the US between 1980 and 1989 was performed. Data were taken from NIOSH's National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) surveillance system for the period 1980 to 1989. The total number of fatal injuries reported to the NTOF system decreased by 23% between 1980 and 1989, from around 7,400 to 5,700. This represented a 37% decrease in fatality rate, from 8.9 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. Throughout the period, the fatality rates among male, black, and older workers were consistently higher than among their counterparts. The fatality rates decreased in all demographic groups; however, the largest decreases occurred among males, blacks, workers from other races, and younger workers (those 16 to 19 and 20 to 24 years (yr) old), the mean decreases being 33.6, 41.9, 44.3, 56.7, and 49.4%, respectively. The fatality rates in white workers, females, and workers 30yr or older decreased by an average of 30.0, 35.1, and 30.3 to 27.0%, respectively. Across all industries, the highest fatal injury rates occurred in Mining (including Oil and Gas Extraction), Construction, Public Utilities, and Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing. These rates decreased by 34.7, 24.8, 34.0, and 50.8% over the 10yr period, respectively. The decrease in fatal injury rate for all US industries, by contrast, was 37.2%. Motor vehicle accidents, machine related injuries, homicides, electrocutions, and being struck by falling objects accounted for most (72%) of the deaths. The number of deaths from these causes decreased over the study period. The greatest decrease was for electrocutions, 54.3% The authors conclude that although the rate of occupational fatal injuries has decreased during the 1980s in nearly every demographic and industrial sector of the US workforce, more than 5,000 workers are still dying each year as a result of a work related injury.
Nancy A. Stout, EdD, Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1095 Willowdale Rd, Morgantown, WV 26505-2845.