By Molly O'Toole
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Disasters at a coal mine in West Virginia and aboard an oil rig operated by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico again made mining one of the most dangerous American jobs in 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday.
In private mining, fatal work injuries rose 74 percent to 172 in 2010 from 99 a year earlier, according to the government agency's census of deaths.
Fatality rates for mining rose to 19.9 in 2010 from 12.4 in 2009 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Gulf coast, licensed to British Petroleum, exploded and killed 11 workers last April, causing the largest accidental oil spill into an ocean in history.
Also last April, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal Mine in West Virginia owned by Massey Energy Co killed 29 miners.
The police profession was not far behind mining as a dangerous occupation, with the number of fatalities increasing by 40 percent to 134 last year from 96 in 2009.
Of the total police officers who died on the job in 2010, 57 cases involved highway incidents and 48 involved homicides.
A preliminary total of 4,547 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2010, a slight drop from the final count of 4,551 fatalities in 2009, according to BLS.
When the Occupational Safety and Health Act passed in 1970, some 14,000 workers died each year on the job, according to a statement on the report from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
Now an average of 12 workers die on the job every day.
"My constant focus is 'good jobs for everyone,' and safety is an essential part of that equation," Solis said.
As for causes, deaths from fires more than doubled to 109 in 2010 from 53 in 2009, the highest count since 2003.
Transportation accidents decreased slightly but still accounted for almost two of every five fatalities in 2010.
Workplace homicides declined to their lowest total ever recorded by the census, dropping 7 percent in 2010 to 506. That was a decline of more than 50 percent from the high of 1,080 homicides reported in 1994. But workplace homicides involving women increased by 13 percent last year.
(Editing by Greg McCune)