The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors (Columbus, OH) has reported that the total number of incidents in the U.S. and Canada involving boilers and pressure vessels has increased from 2,011 in 1998 to 2,163 in 1999. More than 85% of these were attributable to human error. There was a 133% increase in the number of fatalities, with nine deaths reported in 1998 compared to 21 in 1999.

Thirteen of these were the result of human error. Additionally, there was a 339% increase in the total number of injuries. After a record low of 31 injuries in 1998, the number jumped to 136 in 1999, with 73% of these attributable to human error.

For every 16 incidents reported in 1999, there was one injury. This compares to one injury for every 65 deaths in 1998. Based on these figures, the odds of being injured during a boiler or pressure vessel incident were never greater than in 1999.

Human error was the leading cause of accidents, followed by low-water conditions. The data was compiled from reports submitted by National Board Jurisdictional authorities and by authorized insurance agencies.