News Release


DATE: September 30, 1999 CONTACT: Talitha Lukshin
NO: 00-14 PHONE: (907) 465-4539

Occupational Fatalities Decline to 43 in 1998

The 43 workplace fatalities in Alaska in 1998 is the lowest number recorded since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program began in 1992. It is 16 percent below the previous year. As usual, the majority of deaths resulted from water vehicle accidents (14 fatalities) and aircraft accidents (13 fatalities).

Labor Economist Talitha Lukshin reported the findings in the October issue of Alaska Economic Trends, published by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (AKDOL).

Thirteen lives were lost in the fishing industry in 1998. Four vessels capsized suddenly, leading to the loss of seven fishers. Contributing factors included heavy snow loads, bad weather, and proximity to breaking surf. Damaged or ill-fitting survival suits figured in two deaths related to a sinking. Three fishers were lost overboard. Another was crushed by a falling crab pot on deck.

There were 13 deaths in nine aircraft accidents for 1998. Five accidents claimed six pilots in the unscheduled air transportation industry, five of them wage and salary employees. These five crashes also killed two passengers in an occupational status. Four workers were killed when operating aircraft for business purposes. One accident was not related to a crash; a fishing guide was struck by a floatplane propeller while tying off to the dock. Three out of the four operating air taxi pilots killed in 1998 were reported as having been hired within the past year.

The aircraft and water vehicle categories have alternated as the leading cause of occupational death since this data series began in 1992, together accounting on average for nearly two of three fatal injuries in Alaska.

Contributing to the decline in occupational fatalities from 1997 were fewer aircraft and highway accidents and an absence of logging and diving accidents. However, fatalities in the fishing industry rose from three in 1997 to 13 in 1998. There were more falls from heights in 1998; two of the four fatal falls were in mountaineering.

Violent acts accounted for 16 percent of occupational fatalities. Of the seven deaths, five were shooting homicides, including three Anchorage cab drivers killed during robberies. There was a bear mauling and an at-work suicide.

The AKDOL Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) section investigated six of the occupational fatalities documented in the 1998 census. All six fatalities were among construction trades workers in three different industries.

A complete industry and occupation analysis of the 1998 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries is available on the AKDOL Website at


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