Workplace deaths declined 10% last year, hitting the lowest overall level since 1992. And not all of this decline was due to high unemployment—the fatality rate also fell from 4.0 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers to 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
We were doing less work last year but we were also doing less dangerous work. An obvious source of the decline is a drop in dangerous work. Construction, for example, was way down and it has been the largest death-producing sector over the past six years.
But all of this might be just a statistical illusion, warns the Economix Blog at the New York Times. You see, the recession “may have slowed government record-keeping of workplace injuries, as the government agencies that keep track of such information were probably shorter-staffed last year. In other words, these preliminary totals may change as government workers catch up on processing 2008 cases,” Economix writes.
Lots more on the demographics of workplace death—driving is dangerous, and so is being a man—over at Economix.