TWCC: Texas Occupational Fatalities Increased in 2003

September 22, 2004

The Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (TWCC) reported that occupational fatalities in Texas increased by 17.7 percent in 2003, while the national number of fatalities increased less than 1 percent compared to 2002. There was a total of 491 occupational fatalities in Texas and a total of 5,559 fatalities in the U.S. in 2003.

TWCC compiles detailed information on all work-related fatalities occurring in Texas for the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), a program jointly administered with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This census is designed to produce accurate annual counts of private and public sector fatal workplace injuries using diverse sources. The Commission annually releases total fatality counts and descriptive data in an effort to provide information aimed at preventing fatal work-related injuries and promoting occupational safety.

Causes of fatalities

Transportation incidents continued to be the leading cause of occupational fatalities, resulting in 42 percent of the total. This was a 28 percent increase in transportation incidents from 2002. Fifty-eight percent of all transportation incidents occurred on highways, 16 percent involved pedestrian workers who were struck by vehicles or mobile equipment, and 14 percent were aircraft related.

Following transportation incidents, assaults and violent acts accounted for the second highest percentage of fatalities (18 percent). The number of assaults and violent acts increased by 42.8 percent from 2002. Forty-two percent of the assault and violent act fatalities occurred in sales and related occupations.

While fatalities resulting from transportation incidents and assault and violent acts increased, the number of fatal falls decreased by 24.6 percent. This was the lowest number of fatal falls (52) since 1997. Most fatal falls occurred in construction occupations.


The occupations with the largest number of occupational fatalities in 2003 were: motor vehicle operators (21 percent), construction trades workers (15 percent), and sales and related occupations (11 percent).

Worker demographics

Men accounted for 92 percent of the recorded fatality cases – with transportation incidents being the leading cause (41 percent), followed by assaults and violent acts (16 percent). Women accounted for 8 percent of the total and were victims of transportation incidents in 39 percent of the cases, and of assaults and violent acts in 49 percent. Fifty-one percent of all fatalities were experienced by workers between 35 and 54 years of age, regardless of gender. White non-Hispanic workers comprised 52 percent of the total, Hispanics – 33 percent, and black non-Hispanics – 11 percent. Even though the total number of fatalities to Hispanic workers increased 11 percent from 2002, their representation in the overall number of fatalities decreased from 36 percent in 2002 to 33 percent in 2003.

Fatality prevention

To encourage injury and illness prevention in the workplace, the Commission’s Workers’ Health and Safety Division provides safety programs and services which include: free safety consultations, assistance to hazardous employers, accident prevention services for insurance companies, and safety education training and resources.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting the Commission at (512) 804-4200 or by e-mail at

Table 1: Annual Number of Fatal Occupational Injuries in Texas, 1999-2002 and Table 2: Annual Number of Fatal Occupational Injuries in Texas by Event 1992-2003 may be accessed through the following link on TWCC’s Web site,

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