The number of construction deaths declined 16% in 2009, but with the volume of construction work down, the industry's fatality rate remained flat, the Dept. of Labor has reported.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest annual census of fatal occupational injuries, released Aug. 19, reports that construction deaths totaled 816 last year, down from 975 in 2008.

But the 2009 fatality rate, which takes account of shifts in industry activity, showed no improvement, holding even with 2008, at 9.7 per 100,000 full-time workers.

BLS says, "Economic conditions may explain much of this decline" in the number of construction jobsite fatalities, noting that total construction hours worked dipped 17% last year, after a 10% decline in 2008.

BLS notes that the 2009 numbers is preliminary and are likely to increase when it issues its final 2009 report, in April 2011.

Across all U.S. industry sectors, there were 4,340 deaths on the job in 2009, down 1.7% from the previous year, according to preliminary BLS figures. The bureau says the overall fatality rate also decreased, to 3.3 from 3.7.

Construction fatalities
2009 816 (P)
2008 975
2007 1,204
2006 1,239
2005 1,192
2004 1,234
2003 1,131
Construction fatality rates:
(per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers)
2009 9.7 (P)
2008 9.7
2007 10.8
2006 11.2
P: Preliminary
Note: BLS provides hours-based fatality rates only from 2006 forward.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics