WASHINGTON -- A preliminary total of 4,340 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2009, down from a final count of 5,214 fatal work injuries in 2008.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2009 total represents the smallest annual preliminary total since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program was first conducted in 1992. Based on this preliminary count, the rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2009 was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a final rate of 3.7 in 2008. Counts and rates are likely to increase with the release of final 2009 CFOI results in April 2011.

Economic factors played a major role in the fatal work injury decrease in 2009. Total hours worked fell by 6 percent in 2009 following a 1 percent decline in 2008, and some industries that have historically accounted for a significant share of fatal work injuries, such as construction, experienced even larger declines in employment or hours worked.

While workers in construction incurred the most fatal injuries of any industry in the private sector in 2009, the number of fatalities in construction declined 16 percent in 2009 after a decline of 19 percent in 2008. With this decrease, private construction fatalities are down by more than a third since reaching a series high in 2006. Economic conditions may explain much of this decline with total hours worked having declined 17 percent in construction in 2009, after a decline of 10 percent the year before. Fatal injuries involving workers in the construction of buildings were down 27 percent from 2008, with most of the decrease occurring in nonresidential building construction (down 44 percent to 55 cases).

Fatal injuries were down by 18 percent among private sector workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry sector in 2009. Fatal injuries to workers in forestry and logging led the decrease, declining 50 percent (from 102 in 2008 to 51 in 2009).

Read U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' press release.

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