Construction fatalities in the private sector declined by nearly 10% in 2010, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Aug. 25. This appears to be a trend, as construction fatalities have gone down every year since 2006. In total, fatalities are down 40% since 2006.

Overall, there were 4,547 fatalities across all industries in the U.S., about the same as the final count of 4,551 fatal work injuries in 2009, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program conducted by the BLS.

The BLS suggested that the sluggish economy could have contributed to the decline in construction fatalities, with total hours worked having declined another 6% in construction in 2010, after declines in both 2008 and 2009.

Still, construction, with 751 deaths in 2010, is at the top of the list for the highest number of fatalities of all the sectors for which BLS collects data. Is the industry getting safer, or are workers just working fewer hours in a difficult economy?

For more information, go to BLS' website: