Fatal Work Injuries Fall to Record Low in 2009 in South Carolina

A preliminary total of 73 fatal work injuries were recorded in South Carolina in 2009, down from a final count of 87 fatal work injuries in 2008. The 2009 total represents the smallest annual preliminary total since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program was first conducted in 1992.

Key preliminary findings of the 2009 South Carolina Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

  • Workplace homicides declined 20 percent from 10 in 2008 to 8 in 2009, in contrast to an overall decline of 16 percent for all fatal work injuries.
  • By occupation, fatal work injuries declined 36 percent in transportation and material moving occupations, falling from 28 in 2008 to 18 to 2009.
  • Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance was one of the few occupations reporting higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2009. There were 8 fatalities in 2009 compared to 3 in 2008.
  • Fatal work injuries in the construction and extraction occupations increased 21 percent in 2009 with fatalities totaling 17 in 2009 compared to 14 in 2008.
  • Deaths among men totaled 67, while women accounted for 6 fatalities.
  • Fatalities by race or ethnic origin were led by White, non-Hispanic workers at 45, followed by 17 for Black, non-Hispanic, and 10 for Hispanic or Latino workers.
  • By event or exposure, transportation incidents led the way with 29 fatalities, followed by assaults and violent acts at 12. Contact with objects and equipment totaled 11 deaths, followed by falls at 10.
  • The primary source of worker deaths was vehicles at 27.
  • In the category of worker activity, 27 deaths occurred in vehicular and transportation operations, followed by 19 in constructing, repairing, cleaning, and 9 in physical activities.
  • Most deaths occurred on streets and highways, 24, followed by industrial place and premises at 16, and public buildings at 13.

"The fatality census counts every death that is work related, including highway deaths, deaths from natural causes, and homicides," said Jim Knight, spokesman for the state Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) office. "Normally, when you think of on-the-job deaths, you think of a worker falling from an elevated platform on a construction site or getting caught in machinery at a manufacturing facility. "If you deleted highway deaths, natural causes, and homicides, the count would be significantly lower."  

According to state OSHA data, only 39 of the 73 deaths were identified or reported to OSHA in 2009. Of the 39 deaths, 20 deaths were investigated . The remaining 19 did not fall under state OSHA's purview; these included 15 deaths from natural causes (heart attack or stroke), 2 highway deaths, 1 sole owner, and 1 under federal OSHA jurisdiction. The state OSHA office covered 19 deaths in 2008 when the total CFOI count was 87.

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) is compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The report compiles a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in South Carolina 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.