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Deindustrialisation and the long term decline in fatal occupational injuries
  1. D Loomis1,
  2. D B Richardson1,
  3. J F Bena2,
  4. A J Bailer3
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  2. 2National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH, USA
  3. 3Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Prof. D Loomis
 Department of Epidemiology, CB-7435 UNC-CH, Chapel Hill NC 27599-7435, USA;


Aims: To examine the extent to which deindustrialisation accounts for long term trends in occupational injury risk in the United States.

Methods: Rates of fatal unintentional occupational injury were computed using data from death certificates and the population census. Trends were estimated using Poisson regression. Standardisation and regression methods were used to adjust for the potential effect of structural change in the labour market.

Results: The fatal occupational injury rate for all industries declined 45% from 1980 to 1996 (RR (rate ratio) 0.55, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.57). Adjustment for structural changes in the workforce shifted the RR to 0.62 (95% CI 0.60 to 0.65). Expanding industries enjoyed more rapid reduction in risk (−3.43% per year, 95% CI −3.62 to −3.24) than those that contracted (−2.65% per year, 95% CI −2.88 to −2.42).

Conclusions: Deindustrialisation contributed to the decline of fatal occupational injury rates in the United States, but explained only 10–15% of the total change.

  • occupational injuries
  • safety
  • employment trends
  • downsizing
  • restructuring
  • labour market

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