Report: Work-Related Deaths Rose 50% in Conn. in 2004

November 21, 2005

The number of deaths in Connecticut due to work-related injuries increased by 50 percent last year, rising from 36 to 54, according to a state report.

Connecticut is one of 27 states to have reported an increase in workplace fatalities in 2004, according to the report that was issued by the state Department of Labor.

The work-related fatalities is the most recorded in Connecticut since 2000, when 55 deaths occurred.

Erin Wilkins, a research analyst for the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health division, said workplace fatalities in Connecticut are relatively few and the number rises or falls dramatically because the sample size is small.

“It’s hard to say exactly what caused the number to go up,” she said. “It could be that there was more construction going on in the state that year or there were more new, less-experienced workers on the job.”

Sixteen employees aged 25-to-34 died on the job, according to the report.

Unless a significant industrial accident occurs, it is difficult to point to specific reasons for the increase in fatal workplace accidents in a particular year, Wilkins said.

The numbers show an increase in the number of deaths due to falls, which rose from nine in 2003 to 16, she said.

Transportation accidents, which are typically the leading cause of workplace fatalities, accounted for 17 of the 54 deaths in Connecticut last year, or about one-third. Homicides were responsible for eight fatalities.

Connecticut began recording work-related deaths in 1992 and has reported an average of 41 work-related deaths a year. The greatest recorded loss was in 1998 with 57 deaths

Nationally, 5,703 workers lost their lives to work-related injuries in 2004, a 2 percent increase from the 5,575 fatal workplace injuries reported in 2003.

Texas had the most work-related fatalities in 2004 with 440, Florida had 422 and California reported 416.

Rhode Island and Vermont, which each reported seven, had the fewest.

Thirty-four states had a higher number of workplace deaths than Connecticut in 2004 and 15 reported fewer workplace deaths.

Work-related fatal illnesses, which often occur years after an exposure, are difficult to link to specific working conditions and are not included in the census, the Labor Department said.

Workers in the construction and extraction trades suffered the most work-related fatal injuries, with 20, followed by workers in the transportation and material moving industries, with 12 work-related fatal accidents.

Men died in 52 of the 54 incidents.

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