Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem throughout the United States. Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries indicates that falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic death in the workplace, accounting for 13.7% of such deaths (808 of 5,900) in 2001. During that year, 23 workers died in falls through skylights, 11 died in falls through existing roof openings, and 24 died in falls through existing floor openings. Data from the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses shows that, during 1999, nearly 300,000 workers in private industry sustained injuries from falls, resulting in lost time from work. In 1999, an estimated 80 workers were injured in falls through skylights, 100 in falls through existing roof openings, and 617 in falls through existing floor openings. Most injuries occurred in construction, though many injuries occurred in other industries such as manufacturing, retail trade, and services. OSHA emphasizes that workers remain at risk of falling through the floor, roof, skylight, and other openings. There is an increasing effort to identify fall hazards and implement prevention measures for reducing serious injuries and fatal falls.
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