Economic News Release

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2012

For release 10:00 a.m. 	(EDT) Thursday, August 22, 2013		                   			USDL-13-1699 
Technical information:	(202) 691-6170 - iifstaff@bls.gov - www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm
Media contact:		(202) 691-5902 - PressOffice@bls.gov

NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2012
(PRELIMINARY RESULTS)

A preliminary total of 4,383 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2012, down from a revised count 
of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011, according to results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) 
conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2012 total represents the second lowest preliminary total 
since CFOI was first conducted in 1992. The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2012 was 
3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a rate of 3.5 per 100,000 in 2011.

Over the last 5 years, net increases to the preliminary count have ranged from 84 in 2011 to 211 in 2009. 
The revised 2011 figure represented a 2 percent increase over the preliminary total, while the 2009 figure was 
a 5 percent increase. Revised 2012 data from CFOI will be released in the late Spring of 2014. 

Key preliminary findings of the 2012 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

-	Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector increased 5 percent to 775 in 2012 from 738 in 2011. 
	Total hours worked in the private construction industry increased one percent in 2012. The increase in fatal 
	occupational injuries in 2012 follows five consecutive years of declining fatal injury counts in the 
	construction sector. Fatal construction injuries are down 37 percent since 2006. 
-	Since 2011, CFOI has identified whether fatally-injured workers were working as contractors at the time of 
	the fatal incident. In 2012, 708 decedents were identified as contractors, many of whom worked in construction 
	and transportation occupations.
-	Fatal work injuries declined among non-Hispanic white workers (down 10 percent) and Hispanic or Latino workers 
	(down 5 percent) in 2012. Fatal work injuries were higher among non-Hispanic black or African-American workers 
	and non-Hispanic Asian workers.
-	Fatal work injuries involving workers under 16 years of age nearly doubled, rising from 10 in 2011 to 
	19 in 2012—the highest total since 2005. Fatal work injuries in the other age groups declined in 2012. 
	Fatal work injuries among workers 55 years of age and older declined for the second straight year.
-	Work-related suicides declined 10 percent from 2011 totals, but violence accounted for about 17 percent 
	of all fatal work injuries in 2012.
-	Fatal work injuries in the private mining sector rose in 2012, led by an increase in fatal injuries to workers 
	in oil and gas extraction industries. Fatal work injuries in oil and gas extraction industries rose 23 percent 
	to 138 in 2012, reaching a new high for the series. 

Worker characteristics

The number of fatal work injuries involving non-Hispanic white workers declined 10 percent in 2012, but rose 
by 13 percent for non-Hispanic Asian workers. Despite the increase, Asian workers still recorded a lower rate of 
fatal injury than the rate for workers overall (1.8 per 100,000 FTE workers for non-Hispanic Asians versus 
3.2 per 100,000 FTE workers for workers overall).

Fatal work injuries among Hispanic or Latino workers dropped to 708 in 2012 from 749 in 2011, a decrease of 5 percent. 
Of the 708 fatal work injuries incurred by Hispanic or Latino workers, 454 (or 64 percent) involved foreign-born 
workers. Overall, there were 777 fatal work injuries involving foreign-born workers in 2012, of which the 
greatest share (299 or 38 percent) were born in Mexico.

Fatal work injuries increased for workers under 16 years of age, rising to 19 in 2012 from 10 in 2011, reaching 
its highest level since 2005. Fourteen of these young decedents were employed as agricultural workers. Fatal work 
injuries involving men fell from 4,308 in 2011 to 4,045 in 2012—the lowest total since the inception of the 
fatality census in 1992.

Fatal injuries to both wage and salary workers and self-employed workers declined in 2012.

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by worker characteristics, see the 2012 tables 
at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Type of incident

Transportation incidents accounted for more than 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2012. (See chart 1.) 
Of the 1,789 transportation-related fatal injuries, about 58 percent (1,044 cases) were roadway incidents involving 
motorized land vehicles. Nonroadway incidents, such as a tractor overturn in a farm field, accounted for another 
13 percent of the transportation-related fatal injuries. About 16 percent of fatal transportation incidents in 2012 
involved pedestrians who were struck by vehicles. Of the 283 fatal work injuries involving pedestrians struck 
by vehicles, 65 occurred in work zones. (Note that transportation counts presented in this release are expected 
to rise when updated 2012 data are released in Spring 2014 because key source documentation detailing specific 
transportation-related incidents has not yet been received.)

Fatal work injuries among those fatally injured in aircraft incidents in 2012 declined by 14 percent from 2011, 
accounting for 125 fatalities or about 7 percent of the transportation total.

Overall, 767 workers were killed as a result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals, including 
463 homicides and 225 suicides. The work-related suicide total for 2012 declined 10 percent from the 2011 total 
and the homicide total was also slightly lower. Shootings were the most frequent manner of death in both 
homicides (81 percent) and suicides (48 percent). Of the 338 fatal work injuries involving female workers, 
29 percent involved homicides.

Fatal falls, slips, or trips took the lives of 668 workers in 2012, down slightly from 2011. Falls to a lower level 
accounted for 544 or about 81 percent of those fatalities. In 2012, the height of the fall was reported in 437 of the 
fatal falls to a lower level. Of those cases, about one in four occurred after a fall of 10 feet or less. Another 
one-fourth of the fatal fall cases occurred from falls of over 30 feet.

While the total number of fatal work injuries involving contact with objects and equipment in 2012 remained about 
the same as in 2011, the number of workers fatally injured after being struck by objects or equipment increased by 
7 percent (to 509 fatal work injuries in 2012 from 476 in 2011). This total includes 233 workers struck by 
falling objects or equipment and 199 struck by powered vehicles or mobile equipment not in normal operation.

There were 142 multiple-fatality incidents in 2012 (incidents in which more than one worker was killed) 
in which 341 workers died.

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by incident, see the 2012 tables at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Industry

In the private sector, there were 3,945 fatal work injuries in 2012, down 6 percent to a new series low. Both 
goods-producing industries and service-providing industries showed declines.

Among goods-producing sectors, the number of fatal work injuries in the private construction sector increased 
5 percent in 2012. Total hours worked were higher by one percent in 2012. The increase in 2012 was the first 
in construction fatalities since 2006. Construction fatalities are down 37 percent over that time. Construction 
accounted for the highest number of fatal work injuries of any industry sector in 2012. (See chart 2.)

Fatal work injuries in the private mining sector increased 14 percent to 177 in 2012 from 155 in 2011—the highest 
level since 2007. The number of fatal work injury cases in oil and gas extraction industries rose to 138 in 2012 
from 112 in 2011; the 2012 figure represents a series high. Fatal work injuries in coal mining increased slightly, 
and fatal work injuries in support activities for mining increased 9 percent. CFOI has used the North American 
Industry Classification System (NAICS) to define industry since 2003, and data on oil and gas extraction industries 
in CFOI comprise NAICS 21111 Oil and gas extraction, NAICS 213111 Drilling oil and gas wells, and 
NAICS 213112 Support activities for oil and gas operations.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting fatalities decreased 16 percent to 475 in 2012 from 566 in 2011. 
This follows a 9 percent drop in agriculture fatalities in 2011. Fatal injuries in the crop production, 
animal production, forestry and logging, and fishing sectors were all lower in 2012. Despite the declines in 
fatal work injuries in this sector over the last two years, agriculture recorded the highest fatal injury rate 
of any industry sector at 21.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE workers in 2012.

Among service-providing industries in the private sector, fatal work injuries in transportation and warehousing 
accounted for 677 fatal work injuries in 2012, a decrease of 10 percent over the revised 2011 count (749 fatalities). 
The number of fatal injuries in truck transportation, the largest subsector within transportation and warehousing 
in terms of employment, decreased 6 percent in 2012. (As noted, transportation counts presented in this release 
are expected to rise when updated 2012 data are released in Spring 2014.) Among other transportation subsectors, 
fatal work injuries in air transportation were slightly higher, but fatalities in water and rail transportation 
were lower in 2012.

Fatal work injuries in the financial activities sector declined 17 percent in 2012 to 81. The professional and 
business services sector also reported lower numbers of fatal injuries in 2012, down 10 percent from 2011.

Fatal occupational injuries among government workers decreased 13 percent from 2011 to 438 fatal work injuries, 
the lowest fatal work injury total since the start of the fatality census. Both state government and 
local government showed declines (19 percent and 16 percent, respectively), though fatal injuries among 
federal government workers remained about the same.

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by industry, see the 2012 tables at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Occupation

Fatal work injuries in construction and extraction occupations rose for the second year in a row to 838—a 5 percent 
increase from 2011. Hours worked increased one percent in this occupation group during that period. Fatal injuries 
among construction trades workers rose in 2012 to 577 after 5 years of decline. This marked an 8 percent increase 
over the series low of 533 in 2011, but a 41 percent drop from the high of 977 reported in 2006. Fatal work injuries 
to construction laborers, the subgroup in this category with the highest number of fatalities, increased 10 percent 
to 210 in 2012, following a series low of 191 in 2011. Fatal injuries to roofers, another subgroup within 
construction trades workers, rose to 70 in 2012, a 17 percent rise from 2011 marking the highest count in 5 years.
 
Fatal work injuries in transportation and material moving occupations were down 7 percent to 1,150 in 2012. 
Fatal work injuries in this occupational group accounted for about one quarter of all fatal occupational injuries. 
Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers was the subgroup within transportation and material moving occupations with 
the highest number of fatal injuries. Dropping 4 percent, this subgroup recorded 741 fatalities in 2012. Fatal 
injuries to taxi drivers and chauffeurs were down 28 percent to a series low of 46. (As noted, transportation and 
material moving counts presented in this release are expected to rise when updated 2012 data are released 
in Spring 2014.)

The number of fatal work injuries among protective service occupations decreased 21 percent in 2012 
to 224 fatalities–reaching the lowest count since the occupational series began in 2003. The decline was led 
by lower numbers of fatal injuries to police and sheriff’s patrol officers, which dropped 20 percent to 104 in 2012 
to continue a two-year downward trend. Fatal injuries to both security guards and firefighters reached series lows 
with 48 and 17 fatalities, respectively.

Fatal work injuries to workers in management occupations declined 8 percent to 429 in 2012—the lowest level 
in the series. This decrease was driven primarily by the 19 percent decline in fatal injuries to farmers, ranchers, 
and other agricultural managers from 268 in 2011 to 216 in 2012.

Fatalities among farming, fishing, and forestry occupations declined 6 percent to 245 in 2012. This was led by the 
24 percent drop in fatalities to fishers and related fishing workers from 42 in 2011 to a series low of 32 in 2012. 
Fatal injuries to logging workers have remained somewhat level for the last three years, decreasing slightly 
to 62 in 2012.

Fatal injuries to resident military personnel reached a series low in 2012, dropping 25 percent from 
57 fatalities in 2011 to 43.

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by occupation, see the 2012 tables at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Contract workers

In addition to identifying the industry in which a decedent was employed, CFOI began in 2011 to identify whether 
a worker was a contractor. A contractor is defined as a worker employed by one firm but working at the behest of 
another firm that exercises overall responsibility for the operations at the site where the decedent was 
fatally injured. This information helps to identify the location and type of work being performed when 
the fatal work injury occurred.

In 2012, the number of fatal occupational injuries incurred by contractors was 708, or 16 percent of all 
fatal injuries, compared to 542 reported in 2011. Falls to a lower level accounted for 30 percent of contractor 
deaths while struck by object or equipment (18 percent) and pedestrian vehicular (11 percent) incidents also were 
frequent events among contractors.

Fatally-injured contractors were most often contracted by a government entity (151 or 21 percent of all contractors) 
and by firms in the private construction (133 or 19 percent); mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 
(68 or 10 percent); and manufacturing (67 or 9 percent) industry sectors.

The majority of contractors (381 or 54 percent) were working in construction and extraction occupations when fatally 
injured. Decedents in this occupation group were most often employed as construction laborers (101), first-line 
supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (42), electricians (39), and roofers (32). Among contractors 
who were employed outside the construction and extraction occupations group, the largest number of fatal occupational 
injuries was incurred by heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (50); tree trimmers and pruners (16); 
security guards (15); landscaping and groundskeeping workers (14); welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers (14); 
and athletes and sports competitors (13).

For more detailed information on fatal injuries incurred by contract workers, see the 2012 charts 
at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

State and metropolitan statistical area (MSA)

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia reported higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2012 than in 2011, 
while 32 states reported lower numbers. Two states reported the same number as in 2011. For more detailed state 
results, contact the individual state agency responsible for the collection of CFOI data in that state. Although 
data for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are not included in the national totals for this release, 
results for these jurisdictions are available. Participating agencies and their telephone numbers are listed 
in Table 6.

Counts for over 300 MSAs are also available for 2012 from CFOI and detailed data are available for more than 50 MSAs. 
The MSAs with the most fatal occupational injuries in 2012 were New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (NY-NJ-PA) 
with 178, Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown (TX) with 90, Chicago-Joliet-Naperville (IL-IN-WI) with 81, and Los Angeles-Long 
Beach-Santa Ana (CA) with 81.

For more detailed information on fatal injuries by state and MSA, see the 2012 tables at www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

Background of the program

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), part of the BLS Occupational Safety and Health Statistics (OSHS) 
program, compiles a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. during the calendar year. The CFOI program 
uses diverse state, federal, and independent data sources to identify, verify, and describe fatal work injuries. 
This assures counts are as complete and accurate as possible. For the 2012 data, over 19,000 unique source documents 
were reviewed as part of the data collection process.

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), another component of the OSHS program, presents frequency 
counts and incidence rates by industry and also by detailed case circumstances and worker characteristics for 
nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses for cases that result in days away from work. Incidence rates for 2012 
by industry and case type will be published in October 2013, and information on 2012 case circumstances and worker 
characteristics will be available in November 2013. For additional data, access the 
BLS Internet site: www.bls.gov/iif/. For technical information and definitions for the CFOI program, 
please go to the BLS Handbook of Methods on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/pdf/homch9.pdf.

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Last Modified Date: August 22, 2013
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