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U.S. worker fatality rate falls in 2011, but not by much

According to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, 13 workers in Wisconsin and around the country die on the job every day. The latest government statistics on workplace fatalities emphasizes the need for strong safety practices to reduce incidents of job-related deaths and workers' compensation claims.

The recently-released National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries details the number of deadly work accidents without adding costs of workers' compensation benefits. Data was released for 2011 that showed an overall improvement in the workplace fatality rate over the previous year.

Just over 4,600 employees lost their lives on the job in the U.S. last year. The fatality figure for 2010 was nearly 4,700. Labor officials said 3.5 workers out of every 100,000 full-time employees were killed in the course of their duties in 2011. The so-called FTE rate was higher in 2010 -- 3.6 deaths for every 100,000 employees.

Some industries showed a significant safety improvement. More than 50 fewer deaths were recorded in the private construction sector, down from 774 to 721 from year to year. Construction death rates have been declining steadily, dropping more than 40 percent since 2006.

Ten percent fewer deaths were recorded among miners last year than in 2010. The decline came after a year in which the death rate soared by nearly 75 percent. Coal mining deaths dropped significantly from more than 40 in 2010 to 17 deaths last year.

Seventeen percent or 780 workplace deaths in 2011 were caused by violence.

Trucking accidents and deadly employee falls each claimed 14 percent of the total worker death count. Officials are concerned about a 14 percent increase last year in fatal transportation accidents. Labor officials also accounted for more than 470 deaths caused by fallen equipment or objects and 150-plus on-the-job accidents that took multiple lives.

Family members whose loved one dies at work may receive Wisconsin workers' compensation death benefits. Compensation is calculated based on an employee's average yearly earnings. Spouses and children of deceased workers are eligible for benefits.

Source: hazardexonthenet.net, "US occupational injury census sees small drop in workplace fatalities for 2011," Oct. 2, 2012

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