Calif. Workplace Fatalities Decline by 8% in 2002

November 3, 2003

The number of workplace fatalities in California declined by 8 percent in 2002 according to the Department of Industrial Relation’s (DIR) Division of Labor Statistics and Research. The number of workers who died on the job in 2002 was 478, down 25 percent since 1992 when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began compiling work-related fatalities.

“While one life lost is too many, I am pleased that our focus on workplace safety is paying off,” said Chuck Cake, (DIR) acting director. “The Davis administration has worked hard to protect workers by increasing inspections and enforcement of existing laws which creates a strong incentive for compliance,” added Cake.

The number of workplace fatalities has declined steadily over the past five years at a rate of 7-8 percent per year. In prior years the number of fatalities hovered around 650 and showed no significant reductions.

Among the preliminary findings for 2002 fatalities were:
More workers — 43 percent — died from transportation accidents then any other type of workplace mishap.

The occupation that suffered the highest number of fatalities was truck drivers.

Both the transportation and services industries had the highest number of fatalities with 81 deaths each, followed by construction with 78 fatalities.

Falling at work showed the sharpest decline with 34 percent fewer fatalities.

Workplace fatalities in 2002 by industry sector were: transportation, 16.9 percent; services-such as business services, auto repair services and garages 16.9 percent; construction 16.3 percent; agriculture/forestry/fishing 12.6 percent; manufacturing 10.5 percent; retail trade 9 percent; wholesale trade 1.9 percent; finance/insurance/real estate 1.7 percent; and mining 1 percent.

Leading the category of work-related fatalities by occupation in 2002 were operators, fabricators, and laborers at 31.2 percent; followed by precision production, craft, and repair at 18.4 percent; farming, forestry, fishing at 12.3 percent; technical, sales and administration at 11.9 percent; service occupations at 11.3 percent; managing and professional specialties at 9.2 percent; and military occupations at 5.6 percent.

The national census of fatal workplace injuries and illnesses identifies, verifies and profiles workplaces of all employees in the private sector, as well as individuals who are self-employed, civilian and military government workers. Census sources include Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA reports, law enforcement data, workers’ compensation claims, coroners’ reports and news reports.

The complete DLSR report is posted on the Internet at
http://www.dir.ca.gov .

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