Work Accidents Kill 43 in West Virginia in 2011

On-the-job incidents killed 43 workers in West Virginia in 2011, the third-lowest total since an annual federal census of workplace fatalities began in 1992, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.

The bureau’s preliminary 2011 total was 54.7 percent lower than the total in 2010, when 95 workers were killed on the job. The 2010 total includes 29 miners who were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine.

Nationwide, there were 4,609 workplace fatalities in 2011, down from 4,690 in 2010.

Eighteen West Virginia workers suffered fatal injuries in transportation incidents in 2011, including 12 deaths in highway incidents. Eleven workers died after they were struck by an object or equipment. These two categories accounted for two-thirds of all workplace fatalities.

Other causes included falls and exposure to harmful substances or environments. There also were two homicides.

The mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector recorded the most fatalities with 10. The transportation and warehousing sector and the construction sector each recorded seven deaths.

All the victims were white, non-Hispanic men. Sixty-three percent of the victims, or 27, were between the ages of 25 to 54, the prime working group.

July was the deadliest month with seven fatalities, followed by June with six.

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.

West Virginia’s lowest workplace fatalities total was 40 in 2002, followed by 41 in 2009.