IR # 96-37
Wednesday, September 25, 1996

Rick Rice
Troy Swauger
(415) 972-8835

On-the-Job Deaths Decline in 1995

SAN FRANCISCO-- Fewer California workers died while at their jobs in 1995, according to Lloyd W. Aubry Jr., Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. A preliminary report issued by the Division of Labor Statistics and Research states that there were 27 fewer worker fatalities in 1995 than in 1994.

The preliminary figures were revealed in data collected for the 1995 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) which was conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Figures for 1995 are the latest numbers available.

The statistics appear to show a continuing drop in the number of work-related deaths over the last two years. In 1995, there were 614 deaths attributed to work-related accidents. The previous year had set a three-year record for the fewest number of deaths in the workplace at 641. Final figures for 1995 will be available early next year. In 1994, there was a change of 40 cases between the preliminary and final data.

The CFOI program identifies incidents involving workplace fatalities from several sources, including Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA reports, law enforcement information, workers' compensation claims, coroner's reports, and even news reports. The census identifies, verifies, and profiles workplace fatalities involving all employees in the private sector, self-employed individuals, and civilian and military government employees.

Transportation accidents continue to represent the leading cause of workplace deaths in 1995, with 252 fatal injuries or 41 percent of the total. Half of the transportation accidents involved highway traffic incidents, with collisions between vehicles as the most common event.

In 1995, assaults and violent acts, the second leading cause of workplace fatalities, registered 185 deaths. This represents a big drop from the 245 cases reported in 1993, when assaults accounted for the highest number of work-related deaths in California.

As in prior years, most work-related homicides in 1995 occurred in the retail trade industry with 54 fatalities. Two occupational groups -- sales and protective service occupations -- together accounted for almost half of all workplace homicides.

Other causes of workplace fatalities included 64 workers, or 10. 4 percent of the total, who were struck by various objects, caught in equipment or collapsing structure or materials. Additionally, there were 47 people, or 7.7 percent, who died from falls; 46 people, 7.5 percent, who perished from exposure to harmful substances or environments (electrocution, noxious substances, drowning). Fires and explosions accounted for 19 times, or 3.1 percent, when a worker died from a work-related incident.

Workplace traumatic deaths were incurred by men 91.4 percent of the time, well above their share of California's employment. Seven out of 10 of those who were fatally injured were in the prime working age group -- 25 to 54 years, according to the report.

Among the private industry sector, more fatalities occurred in the transportation and public utilities industry, accounting for 104 fatalities, or 16.9 percent of the total. The totals by other industry groups were:

Among occupational groups, operators, fabricators, and laborers had the greatest number of fatalities, with 199 or 32.4 percent. Other groups include: