U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Data

| February 02, 2023
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its most recent national census of fatal occupational injuries. The census discusses key findings related to fatal occupational injuries that occurred in 2021. As a whole, fatal injuries are up 8.9% from 2020: there were 4,764 fatal injuries in 2020 and 5,190 total fatal work injuries in 2021.
Key Findings
  • The census found that the total number of fatal injuries in 2021 reached its highest point since 2016. In fact, a worker died every 101 minutes from an occupational injury in 2021.
  • Transportation-related incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event, with 1,982 fatal injuries accounting for over one-third (38.2%) of all work-related fatalities.
  • Workplace suicides decreased by 8.9% between 2020 and 2021, down from 259 incidents to 236.
Worker Characteristics
  •  In 2021, women represented 14.5% of workplace intentional injuries by a person. Yet, this demographic made up just 8.6% of overall occupational fatalities during the same time period.
  • In addition, 1,087 occupational fatalities occurred among workers between the ages of 45 and 54, accounting for 20.9% of total fatalities for the year.
Fatal Events or Exposures
  • Despite experiencing an increase from 2020 to 2021, fatal transportation incidents are still down 6.6% from 2019. Workplace fatalities due to violence and other injuries by people or animals increased from 705 fatalities in 2020 to 761 in 2021, representing a 7.9% increase. The largest contributor to this category, intentional injuries by people, increased by 10.3% to 718 incidents during 2021.
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments led to 798 occupational fatalities in 2021, which is the highest number since 2011. This category of fatality also includes unintentional overdoses from the nonmedical use of drugs. These instances accounted for 58.1% of total fatalities within the category, which is up from 57.7% in 2020.
  • In addition, work-related fatalities resulting from slips, trips and falls increased from 805 fatalities in 2020 to 850 in 2021, a 5.6% increase. Slips, trips and falls within construction and excavation occupations increased 7.2% from 2020, accounting for 307 fatalities.
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers experienced a 16.3% increase in deaths in 2021, which contributed to the increase in fatalities to workers in transportation and material moving occupations reaching a series high.
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