Fatal workplace injuries in the real estate industry have fallen to the lowest level since 2005, though assaults and other violent acts accounted for a rising share of deaths last year, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Thursday.

In 2011, there were 40 workplace fatalities in a BLS-defined real estate industry subcategory. The subcategory includes lessors of real estate (landlords); real estate agents and brokers and others who work in brokerage offices; and those who conduct activities related to real estate, such as property managers and appraisers.

The real estate subcategory is part of a more broadly defined "real estate and rental and leasing" BLS category in which there were a total of 60 fatal work injuries in 2011.

The 40 real estate industry workplace injury fatalities identified by the BLS in 2011 were a decrease from 63 such fatalities in 2010 when they reached their highest level since at least 2003. Last year’s figure represents a 37 percent year-over-year drop from that 2010 high and the lowest level since 2005, when fatal workplace injuries stood at 39.

The rise in violence against real estate professionals prompted Inman News to publish a three-part series focusing on personal safety last year. An April survey of Inman News readers found that more than 27 percent who don’t employ open houses as a marketing strategy are worried about safety and liability issues.

September is the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor Safety Month; for those interested in tips and tools to boost safety on the job, the association offers videos, webinars and other materials on its website.

The BLS has not yet released 2011 data on nonfatal workplace injuries. In 2010, 940 workers in the real estate and rental and leasing category, which includes but is not exclusive to real estate agents, were victims of a nonfatal assault, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 620 in 2009 and 170 in 2008.

Fatal occupational injuries in real estate subcategory, 2003-2011:

2003 52
2004 48
2005 39
2006 58
2007 50
2008 56
2009 53
2010 63
2011 40

Note: 2011 data is preliminary. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of last year’s such deaths, 25 were a result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals. That’s a 62.5 percent share, up from 2010 when violent acts accounted for 48 percent of workplace fatalities. Of the 25 violent deaths, 16 were homicides and included 10 people employed as property lessors (landlords), and four people who worked in real estate-related activities but were not agents or brokers.

Fatal occupational injuries due to homicide in real estate subcategory, 2003-2011:

2003 18
2004 17
2005 10
2006 15
2007 16
2008 23
2009 19
2010 23
2011 16

Note: 2011 data is preliminary. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

No homicides that met publication criteria were recorded among those who work in the offices of agents and brokers, though four died due to violent injuries. Among real estate brokers and agents specifically, there were four fatalities in 2011, of which three were due to transportation incidents. That’s a relative improvement from 2010 when there were nine fatalities among agents and brokers, six of whom died due to homicide.

Among property, real estate and community association managers specifically, there were 14 fatalities in 2011, 10 due to violent acts, including nine homicides.

Six of the 40 real estate industry fatalities in 2011 were attributed to falls, six to transportation incidents (all but one among those who work in brokerage offices), and three to exposure to harmful substances or environments.

The final 2011 data for fatal occupational injuries will be released in about eight months.

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