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Workplace fatalities decline in Washington state for 2009

TUMWATER – The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday released its preliminary statistics for 2009, reporting that work-related deaths declined in Washington state last year to numbers not seen since 2000.

The BLS, which produces an annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, reported 75 deaths in Washington state, down from 83 reported in 2008. Over the past decade, an average of 86 people per year have died in Washington state from work-related injuries, according to the federal census, placing last year’s toll at well below the average.

“We know much of this decline is likely due to fewer people working during this economic recession,” Labor & Industries Director Judy Schurke said. “But many industries have also worked hard to improve workplace safety and L&I has continued to increase its efforts in providing safety and health information to employers.”

These efforts include workshops throughout the state, free safety and health consultations and improving outreach among Spanish-speaking workers.

Workplace deaths in the construction industry, which is typically among the most hazardous professions in the state, had the most dramatic decline, with 9 fatalities in 2009, compared to 20 the year before.

While deaths due to workplace violence nationally saw a slight decline, in Washington state, the numbers climbed with 14 on-the-job homicides in 2009. Several of those deaths involved the fatal shootings of law enforcement officers.

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For media information: Hector Castro, L&I, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version: A federal census of work-related fatalities showed that the numbers of such deaths declined in Washington state last year. For 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics documented 75 work-related deaths, compared to 83 for the previous year. The number of deaths was the lowest seen since 2000. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries attributes this decline both to fewer people working and to improvements in workplace safety measures. To learn more, visit Lni dot wa dot gov.

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