Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released yesterday show a decline in workplace fatalities in 2009 compared with 2008.

Last year, 4,340 workers died from work-related injuries, down from a final count of 5,214 fatal work injuries in 2008.

The 2009 total represents the smallest annual preliminary total since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program was first conducted in 1992. Based on this preliminary count, the rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2009 was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a final rate of 3.7 in 2008.

Economic factors played a major role in the fatal work injury decrease in 2009, according to the BLS. Total hours worked fell by 6 percent in 2009 following a 1 percent decline in 2008, and some industries that have historically accounted for a significant share of fatal work injuries, such as construction, experienced even larger declines in employment or hours worked.

In addition, some source documents used by CFOI State partners to identify and verify fatal work injuries were delayed, due at least in part to fiscal constraints at some of the

In response, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement:

“A single worker hurt or killed on the job is one too many. While a decrease in the number of fatal work injuries is encouraging, we cannot — and will not —relent from our continued strong enforcement of workplace safety laws.

“As the economy regains strength and more people re-enter the workforce, the Department of Labor will remain vigilant to ensure America’s workers are kept safe while they earn a paycheck. After all, as I’ve said before, no job is a good job unless it is also safe.”