Worker deaths fell in 2009, with a significant drop in forestry-related deaths leading the way, according to a preliminary federal report on workplace safety. And while forestry and logging regularly make the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list for most-dangerous jobs, the industry saw fatal injuries fall by 50 percent last year.

Grief Lubec turns to the sea
Since December 2008, the Lubec area has lost three fishing vessels, five fishermen, a clammer and a periwinkle harvester.

Fatal injuries in Maine’s other most-dangerous job, fishing, increased, however, and the BLS classification for both industries, “agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting,” remained the most dangerous in the annual survey.

Specific Maine numbers for 2009 are still being reviewed by the state Department of Labor, but department spokesman Adam Fisher said the fishing industry accounted for approximately half of the 16 workplace fatalities in Maine in 2009. A final state report for last year is expected late next month. The department makes its 2008 workplace fatality statistics available on its website.

Nationally, 4,340 people died on the job last year, down 17 percent from 2008. That amounts to 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers. For fishing, however, the rate was approximately 60 times that, or 200 deaths per 100,000. Forestry, despite its substantial decline, had a fatality rate of nearly 62 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Part of the reason for the overall drop in deaths is the economy, the BLS said. Total work hours fell 6 percent in 2009, compared with the previous year, and more accident-prone industries such as construction saw work hours fall even more steeply.

Bureau of Labor Statistics