Sixty-one Utahns died from work-related injuries last year, a statistic state officials hope will remind workers to take safety seriously.

The Utah Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, released this week by the Utah Labor Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor, revealed one fewer fatality in 2000 than the state has averaged during the past nine years.

But commission administrator Jay Bagley said 61 deaths is still too many.

"Even one workplace fatality is too many," Bagley said. "It doesn't just affect the worker. This affects whole families."

According to the survey, the majority — 52 percent — of total fatalities occurred in transportation-related accidents.

By industry, transportation and public utilities recorded the highest number of fatal work injuries in Utah. Both are on an upward trend, according to the survey.

Men were the victims of 97 percent of workplace fatalities during 2000, the commission reported. And whites accounted for 82 percent of the 61 deaths.

Of the various occupations factored into the survey, only the managerial and professional group reported a decrease — by 55 percent — in work-related fatalities. Operators, fabricators and laborers recorded the highest number of deaths of any group, accounting for 40 percent of all fatalities.

Bagley said the numbers should motivate businesses, workers and their families to emphasize workplace safety.

"The statistics themselves are not the big thing," Bagley said. "They are to help people think about what it really means. . . .

"The real issue is taking safety seriously, and thinking about it. It's a quality of life issue, really. You want to come home from work with the same parts you went to work with."


E-mail: jnii@desnews.com