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Fatal injuries among grounds maintenance workers - United States, 2003-2008.

Pegula S; Utterback DF
MMWR 2011 May; 60(17):542-546
A total of 1,142 grounds maintenance workers (GMWs) were fatally injured at work during 2003-2008, an average of 190 each year. GMWs accounted for 3.4% of all occupational fatalities, and 31% of those GMWs were Hispanic or Latino. Approximately 83% of the Hispanic or Latino GMWs who died were born outside the United States. In 2008, approximately 1.52 million persons were employed as GMWs, constituting 1.0% of the U.S. workforce. During 2003-2007, an average of 13.3 per 100,000 employed GMWs died each year, compared with an overall rate of 4.0 fatalities per 100,000 U.S. workers. The rate of on-the-job fatal injuries among GMWs has remained elevated relative to other workers for >20 years. This report characterizes events leading to GMW fatalities and differences in fatality characteristics across demographic groups among GMWs, based on an evaluation of 2003-2008 data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program. The report also identifies workplace interventions that might reduce the incidence of fatal injuries. Major events leading to GMW occupational fatalities included transportation incidents (31%), contact with objects and equipment (25%), falls (23%), and traumatic acute exposures to harmful substances or environments (e.g., electrocution and drowning) (16%). To reduce the incidence of such fatalities, employers, trade and worker associations, and policy makers should focus on effective, targeted workplace safety interventions such as frequent hazard identification and training for specific hazards. Diversity among the populations of workers requires use of culture- and language-appropriate training techniques as part of comprehensive injury and illness prevention programs. Annual data for 2003-2008 on occupational fatalities resulting from traumatic injuries were obtained from CFOI, a national surveillance system for work-related traumatic injury deaths maintained by BLS. Occupations in CFOI were classified using the 2000 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Cases were defined as all fatalities among persons classified as either GMWs (SOC 37-301) or first-line supervisors/managers of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers (SOC 37-1012).* Case characteristics, such as events, were coded by CFOI using the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System. Industries were classified by CFOI using the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The CFOI program uses multiple source documents, an average of almost four unique documents per case, to identify and describe all fatal occupational injuries in the United States. Common source documents include death certificates, media reports, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports, coroner/medical examiner reports, and workers' compensation reports. For a fatality to be included in CFOI, the decedent must have been employed at the time of the event, engaged in a legal work activity, and present at the site of the incident as a job requirement. Fatalities that occur during a person's normal commute to or from work are excluded from CFOI counts.
Groundskeeping-workers; Maintenance-workers; Lawn-and-garden-equipment; Landscape-services-workers; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Mortality-data; Mortality-rates; Information-retrieval-systems; Statistical-analysis; Demographic-characteristics; Ladders; Racial-factors; Transportation-workers; Electrocutions; Accident-rates; Surveillance-programs
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
SIC Code
NAICS-56173; NAICS-71391
Source Name
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division