Despite Decline, Still Too Many Worker Deaths

Preliminary figures for 2008 show a nearly 9 percent decline in the number of worker fatalities from the previous year, but Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said even one death is one too many.

A total of 5,057 worker deaths occurred in 2008, according to data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the lowest total since such data collection began in 1992; in 2007, 5,657 worker deaths were recorded.

In a statement, Solis said the decline “represents change in the right direction.” But she stressed the Department of Labor would “not be satisfied until there are no workplace deaths due to failure to comply with safety rules.”

Key findings in the BLS report included workplace suicides increasing 28 percent, Hispanic worker deaths down 17 percent, and deaths from workplace falls dropping 20 percent after a record high in 2007.