Let’s be careful out there: More danger in the government workplace
What’s more, BLS statistics suggest that it’s becoming more dangerous to work in protective service occupations, which often are staffed by government workers. Fatalities among workers employed in protective service occupations rose 19 percent from 2006 to 2007, including police officers (up 30 percent), firefighters (up 17 percent) and security guards (up 11 percent).
In all, about 10 percent of the workplace fatalities in 2007 involved government workers, according to preliminary data from the “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2007.” Final results for 2007 will be released in April 2009.
Overall, a total of 5,488 workplace fatalities were recorded in the United States in 2007, a decrease of 6 percent from the revised total of 5,840 workplace fatalities reported for 2006.
Based on these preliminary counts, the rate of fatal injury for all workers in the U.S. in 2007 was 3.7 fatal work injuries per 100,000 workers, down from the final rate of 4.0 per 100,000 workers in 2006.
Deaths at local-government level drive increase
A total of 532 employees in government died from work injuries in 2007. The rate of fatal injury for government workers in 2007 was 2.4 fatal work injuries per 100,000 workers.
A 14 percent increase in workplace fatalities among local government workers, the report stated, was one of the factors that drove an overall increase in fatalities among government workers in 2007 compared to 2006.
“The increase (in deaths) among local-government workers was primarily attributable to higher numbers of fatalities in police protection and fire protection (up 32 and 43 percent, respectively),” noted a press release announcing the report. Fatal work injury rates were lower for federal- and state-government workers.
Motor vehicle accidents on public roadways accounted for 29 percent of fatal work injuries among government workers in 2007, according to BLS. Homicides were the second-leading cause, at 16 percent. The third-leading cause was falls, at 6 percent.
Workplace homicides up in all sectors
Among other key facts from the report:
- The number of workplace fatalities in the private sector decreased 7 percent in 2007.
- Workplace homicides in all sectors rose 13 percent to 610 in 2007 after reaching a series low of 540 in 2006.
- Thirty states reported lower numbers of workplace fatalities in all sectors in 2007 than in 2006, while 19 states and the District of Columbia reported higher numbers, and one state was unchanged.
The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, part of the BLS occupational safety and health statistics program, compiles a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the United States in each calendar year. For more information, click here.