The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to record the following occupational safety and health injury, illness, and fatality cases on special forms as a means of monitoring worker safety and health:
• Loss of consciousness
• Injuries or illnesses which result in days away from work
• Injuries or illnesses which result in restricted work activity or job transfer
• Injuries or illnesses which result in medical treatment (beyond first aid)
• Significant work-related injuries or illnesses that are diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional, including cancer, chronic irreversible disease, a fractured or cracked bone, and a punctured eardrum.
Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2021
The latest official data for the United States is released annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This data is typically in retrospect by 2 years. The latest 2021 information is summarized below:
- There were 5,190 fatal work injuries, an 8.9% increase from 2020.
- A worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury in 2021.
- The fatal work injury rate was 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalents (FTE) workers, the highest annual rate since 2016.
- Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event 2021, with 1,982 fatal injuries, an increase of 11.5 percent from 2020. The major category accounted for 38.2 percent of all work-related fatalities.
- Workers in transportation and material moving occupations experienced a series high of 1,523 fatal work injuries in 2021 and represent the occupational group with the highest number of fatalities. This is an increase of 18.8 percent from 2020.
- There was a 16.3-percent increase in deaths for driver/sales workers and truck drivers which went up to 1,032 deaths in 2021 from 887 deaths in 2020.
- Construction and extraction occupations had the second most occupational deaths (951) in 2021, despite experiencing a 2.6-percent decrease in fatalities from 2020.
- Protective service occupations (such as firefighters, law enforcement workers, police and sheriff’s patrol officers, and transit and railroad police) had a 31.9-percent increase in fatalities in 2021, increasing to 302 from 229 in 2020. Almost half (45.4 percent) of these fatalities are due to homicides (116) and suicides (21). About one-third (33.4 percent) are due to transportation incidents, representing the highest count since 2016.
- Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations had 475 fatalities in 2021, an increase of 20.9 percent. Almost one-third of these deaths (152) were to vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers.
- The share of Black or African American workers fatally injured on the job reached an all-time high in 2021, increasing from 11.4 percent of total fatalities in 2020 to 12.6 percent of total fatalities in 2021.
- Black or African American workers, as well as Hispanic or Latino workers had fatality rates (4.0 and 4.5 per 100,000 FTE workers, respectively) in 2021 that were higher than the all-worker rate of 3.6. Transportation incidents were the highest cause of fatalities within both groups (267 for Black or African American workers and 383 for Hispanic or Latino workers).
- Women made up 8.6 percent of all workplace fatalities but represented 14.5 percent of intentional injuries by a person in 2021.
- In 2021, workers between the ages of 45 and 54 suffered 1,087 workplace fatalities, a 13.9-percent increase from 2020. This age group accounted for just over one-fifth of the total fatalities for the year (20.9 percent).
- Fatalities due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased to 761 fatalities in 2021 from 705 fatalities in 2020 (7.9 percent). The largest subcategory, intentional injuries by person, increased 10.3 percent to 718 in 2021.
- Work-related fatalities due to falls, slips, and trips increased 5.6 percent in 2021, from 805 fatalities in 2020 to 850 in 2021. Falls, slips, and trips in construction and extraction occupations accounted for 370 of these fatalities in 2021, and an increase of 7.2 percent from 2020 when there were 345 fatalities.
Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in 2021
- Private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021, a decrease of 1.8 percent from 2020.
- In 2021, the incidence rate of total recordable cases (TRC) in private industry was 2.7 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, unchanged from 2020.
- Retail trade injuries and illnesses increased from 341,100 cases in 2020 to 404,700 cases in 2021.
- Transportation and warehousing injuries and illnesses increased from 206,900 cases in 2020 to 253,100 cases in 2021.
- In 2021, private industry cases that involved workers missing days from work (DAFW) in the transportation and warehousing sector increased 23.0 percent to 122,700 cases from 99,800 cases in 2020.
- The number of Days of Job Transfer or Restriction (DJTR) cases in the private construction sector increased by 10.4 percent in 2021 to 35,200 cases.