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Economic News Release
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Technical notes

TECHNICAL NOTES

Identification and verification of work-related fatalities

In 2009, there were 27 cases included for which work relationship could not be independently verified; however, the 
information on the initiating source document for these cases was sufficient to determine that the incident was likely 
to be job-related.  Data for these fatalities are included in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries counts.  
An additional 59 fatalities submitted by states were not included because the source documents had insufficient 
information to determine work relationship and could not be verified by either an independent source document 
or a follow-up questionnaire.

States may identify additional fatal work injuries after data collection closeout for a reference year.  In addition, 
other fatalities excluded from the published count because of insufficient information to determine work relationship 
may subsequently be verified as work related.  States have up to seven months from this release to update their initial 
published state counts.  This procedure ensures that fatality data are disseminated as quickly as possible and 
that legitimate cases are not excluded from the final counts.  Thus, each year's initial release of data should 
be considered preliminary.  Final data are released in the Spring of the following year.  Revised counts for 2009 
will be available in April 2011.

Over the last 2 years, increases in the published counts based on additional information have averaged 156 fatalities 
per year or about 3 percent of the revised total.  The BLS news release issued August 20, 2009 reported a total 
of 5,071 fatal work injuries for 2008.  With the April 2010 release of final data, an additional 143 net fatal work 
injuries were added, bringing the total for 2008 to 5,214.

Federal/State agency coverage

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries includes data for all fatal work injuries, whether the decedent was working in 
a job covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or other federal or state agencies or was 
outside the scope of regulatory coverage.  Thus, any comparison between the BLS fatality census counts and those 
released by other agencies should take into account the different coverage requirements and definitions being used by 
each agency.

Several federal and state agencies have jurisdiction over workplace safety and health.  OSHA and affiliated agencies 
in states with approved safety programs cover the largest portion of the nation's workers.  However, injuries and 
illnesses occurring in certain industries or activities, such as coal, metal, and nonmetal mining, and highway, water, 
rail, and air transportation, are excluded from OSHA coverage because they are covered by other federal agencies, such 
as the Mine Safety and Health Administration and various agencies within the Department of Transportation.

Acknowledgements

BLS thanks the participating states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands for 
their efforts in collecting accurate, comprehensive, and useful data on fatal work injuries.  BLS also appreciates the 
efforts of all federal, state, local, and private sector entities that submitted source documents used to identify 
fatal work injuries.  Among these agencies are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the National 
Transportation Safety Board; the U.S. Coast Guard; the Mine Safety and Health Administration; the Office of Workers’ 
Compensation Programs (Federal Employees' Compensation and Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation divisions); the 
Federal Railroad Administration; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; state vital statistics registrars, 
coroners, and medical examiners; state departments of health, labor and industries, and workers' compensation agencies; 
state and local police departments; and state farm bureaus.

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Last Modified Date: December 09, 2020