West Virginia Workplace Deaths Double in 2010

October 20, 2011

Ninety-five workers were killed in on-the-job incidents in West Virginia in 2010, more than double the 41 workplace deaths that occurred the previous year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday.

The preliminary 2010 total, which includes 29 coal miners who were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine, was the highest since the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries began 19 years ago. The lowest total was 40 in 2002.

Nationwide, there were 4,457 workplace fatalities in 2010, down from 4,551 the previous year.

Thirty-three of West Virginia’s fatalities were due to fire, including the Upper Big Branch deaths. Due to the infrequency of workplace fire deaths, the only other year for which figures are available is 2006, when nine fatalities occurred.

Twenty workers suffered fatal injuries in highway incidents, up from 11 in 2009. Eight workers died after being struck by an object or equipment, compared to seven in 2009.

Other causes included exposure to harmful substances or environments, falls and being caught or compressed by equipment or objects.

The most fatalities occurred in the mining industry, which recorded 37 deaths. Construction accounted for 10 fatalities.

Ninety-four percent of the victims, or 89, were men and 96 percent, or 91, were white, non-Hispanics. Sixty-five percent, or 62, were workers between the ages of 25 and 54 years.

The Huntington-Ashland, Ky. metropolitan area led metro areas with 10 deaths, followed by Charleston with eight deaths.

The census is based on data from state, federal and independent sources, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state and local police departments, and workers’ compensation agencies.

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