Regarding the occurrence of occupational accidents in 2005, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare recently released final figures for fatal and serious such accidents. According to these figures, serious occupational accidents, i,e., those that caused death, injury, or disease to three or more workers at once, numbered 265. Although this was somewhat (nine) less than in fiscal 2004, the number remains on a high level comparing with that in the late 1970s, when the corresponding number hovered in the area of 270 (see Table 1). The number of serious accidents, which went into decline after peaking at 480 in 1968, has continued to rise after bottoming out at 141 in 1985. This trend was one of the reasons for the current amendment of the Industrial Safety and Health Law. After 1985, the number occasionally dipped in certain years, but rose again in the next years. Over the coming years as well, workplaces will continue to be called upon to take measures based on the amended Industrial Safety and Health Law.
As for the breakdown by industry, construction had the largest number of such accidents at 93 (up 4 from 2004), followed by manufacturing at 56 (down 8), and overland cargo transportation at 27 (up 4). By type, the breakdown was led by traffic accidents at 137 (up three), which accounted for the majority. The number caused by poisoning and chemical injuries increased to 74 (up 25). Taken together, these two types accounted for nearly 80 percent (79.6 percent) of the total (see Table 2).
At 68, the number of deaths due to serious accidents was 29 less than in 2004, when the number was 97. In contrast, the 2,286 casualties represented an increase of 855 from 2004, when the number was 1,431.
Overall, occupational accidents took the lives of 1,514 (see Table 3), a decrease of 106 from 2004 and a new record-low. by industry, the breakdown was led by construction at 497, a decrease of 97 from 2004. Construction was followed by manufacturing at 256 (down 37) and overland cargo transport (up 2; see Table 3). The most prevalent type of accident was traffic (road) accidents, which killed 466, followed by falls at 399 and being caught in or compressed by equipment at 193. Taken together, these three types accounted for 70 percent of the total number (see Table 4)