On-the-job deaths jumped 1 percent in 1977, marking the first rise in occupational fatalities in four years, the government reported yesterday.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also said in an annual survey that the number of injuries on the job last year rose 6 percent from 1976, while work-related illnesses declined 4 percent.
Overall, 1 out of every 11 workers on the average experienced a job-related injury or illness in 1977, about the same as in 1976, the bureau said.
It said there were 4,760 work-related fatalities last year at workplaces with 11 or more employes. That compares with 3,940 deaths in 1976.
Previously, there had been a steady decline in work-related deaths since the survey began in 1973. There were 5,340 deaths among employers with 11 or more employes that year.
The bureau's fatality figures do not cover employers with 10 or fewer employes because the data is unreliable due to a sharp reduction last year in the number of small employers surveyed, officials said.
On the average, however, there are 800 deaths each year at workplaces employing 10 or fewer people, the bureau said.
Other major findings in the 1977 survey included:
The number of work-related injuries rose 300,000 from 1976 to 5.3 million, mainly because of an increase in the workforce. Injury rates declined slightly in the mining, transportation and public utility industries, but increased in construction, services, wholesale and retail trade and agriculture.
About 35.2 million workdays were lost due to job-related injuries, an 8 percent increase from 1976.
The number of recognized occupational illnesses declined by 6,000 from 1960, to 162,000. Skin diseases or disorders accounted for 45 out of every 100 illnesses.
Dr. Eula Bingham, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the latest survey shows that "on-the-job hazards continue to kill, maim and make ill our nation's workforce at an unacceptable rate."
Bingham complained about recent court challenges filed by industry groups to stop OSHA from implementing regulations aimed at limiting worker exposure to harmful substances such as lead, benzene and cotton dust.
Business is too willing to spend its time and resources fighting job safety and health, she said. Instead, she said, business should join OSHA in "an allout effort to assure working men and women no longer must trade their lives, limbs or health for a paycheck."