Fatalities in U.S. workplaces dropped 6.6 percent to a total of 5,524 in 2002, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, the fatality rate reached a record low of 4.0 per 100,000 workers in 2002, BLS reported.

Job-related highway crashes remained the leading cause of work-related deaths in 2002. Motor vehicle crashes account for about one-quarter of all workplace deaths, according to BLS.

Workplace homicides fell to the lowest level recorded by BLS. The total of 609 homicides in 2002 was 44 percent below the record high of 1,080 reported in 1994.

Falls as a cause of workplace death declined for the first time since 1998, from 810 deaths in 2001 to 714 in 2002.

Construction continued to be the most dangerous industry. The total number of fatalities in construction was 1,121 in 2002, representing 20 percent of all fatalities. Still, the total was down nine percent from the record high reported in 2001. Construction's rate of 12.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers was three times higher than the national rate.

Comparisons with 2001 figures do not include deaths resulting from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to BLS.