Pennsylvania work deaths decline

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Pennsylvania had the lowest number of workplace fatalities in 2012 with 163 deaths than any year since the bureau started recording fatalities in 1992, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

Not only was the total number of workplace fatalities down, but the state also experienced its lowest death rate per 100,000 workers. In 2012, the state had 2.7 workplace fatalities for every 100,000 workers, according to calculations based on the fatality records from the federal bureau cross-referenced with the employment numbers from the state's Department of Labor and Industry.

The state was well below the national death rate of 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers in 2012. There were 4,383 workplace fatalities nationwide in 2012.

The death rate for Pennsylvania workers was 13 percent lower in 2012 than in 2011 when 186 workers died on the job and 27 percent lower than it was in 2010 when 221 people died at work.

While the number of workplace fatalities in 2012 is a preliminary rate that may still be adjusted, it marked just the second time in a decade that the state's death rate fell under 3 deaths per 100,000.

The tally may rise in the spring when the numbers are adjusted to take in some more data related to transportation safety, according to the bureau.

There were fewer transportation-rated incidents -- 63 in 2012, down from 68 in 2011-- although they did not account for the biggest decline in fatalities.

Instead, fewer "falls from one level to another" accounted for a larger share of the better safety record. In 2012, 10 people were killed on the job falling from one level of a building or structure to another. That was down from 23 in 2011.

Another steep decline came in the number of people intentionally killed at work. While about the same number were killed by another person (17 in 2012, one fewer than in 2011), the number of people who committed suicide at work fell from 10 in 2011 to three in 2012.

In a breakdown by industry, the industrial sector that includes trade, transportation and warehousing -- the largest sector nationally in employment -- accounted for 35 deaths in 2012, down from 62 in 2011.

Construction, which employs far fewer people, accounted for 26 deaths in 2012, down from 30 in 2011.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.


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