An average of 18 people a day were killed on the job last year--about 90% of them men, the government reported Thursday. Among women, homicide remained the leading cause of job-related deaths, accounting for more than one in three of their fatalities.
The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were 6,588 accidental workplace deaths last year, up 4% from 6,331 in 1993. It attributed the rise to more transportation accidents, primarily highway and commercial airline crashes.
Eighty-five percent of the deaths occurred on the day of the accident. The report does not include work-related fatal illnesses or deaths that occurred while commuting to and from work.
Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich noted "a striking difference" between the 6,067 male fatalities and just 521 female deaths. "Over 90% of the fatal injuries this past year were men, although men account for only 54% of the nation's employment," he said.
"That's because male employment is still clustered in certain occupations, such as heavy industry and construction, where workplace dangers are greatest."
Still, as in 1993, homicides were the leading cause of death for female workers, representing 35% of their fatalities last year. Most workers in retail businesses are female, and women are therefore more likely to be robbery victims. Reich also said wages and job-related fatalities seem to be inversely related, because low-wage occupations usually have a higher fatality rate than high-wage occupations.
The No. 1 cause of workplace deaths were highway accidents, which the report says caused 20% of fatal work injuries. Truck drivers had more fatal injuries, 762, than any other occupation.