Workplace Fatalities on the Rise

Workplace Fatalities

Table of Contents

If you are a business owner, HR, or work comp agent – keeping safety top of mind is key. So, what is going on in the workplace safety world? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released U.S. worker accident statistics for 2021, today we are going to go over the numbers. Truthfully, the numbers are disappointing.

The report showed that there were 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2021 which was an 8.9 percent increase from 4,764 deaths reported in 2020.

The fatal work injury rate was 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, up from 3.4 per 100,000 FTE in 2020 and up from the 2019 pre-pandemic rate of 3.5.

The Statistics

  • On average, 14 U.S. workers died every day in 2021.
  • A worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury in 2021.
  • Transportation incidents continue to be the most frequent type of fatal event in 2021 with 1,982 fatal injuries. This was an increase of 11.5 percent from 2020. This major category accounted for almost 40 percent of all work-related fatalities for 2021. The report noted that 1,032 drivers died in 2021.
  • The number of Black or African American workers fatally injured on the job reached an all-time high in 2021. Black worker fatalities increased from 11.4 percent of all fatalities in 2020 to 12.6 percent of total fatalities in 2021. Deaths for this group soared to 653 in 2021 from 541 in 2020, accounting for a 20.7-percent increase.
  • Fatalities due to workplace violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased by almost 8 percent to 761 fatalities in 2021 from 705 fatalities in 2020. The largest subcategory in this group is intentional injuries by person. These fatalities increased 10.3 percent to 718 in 2021.
  • Exposure to harmful substances (chemicals) or environments resulted in 798 worker fatalities in 2021. This is the highest number of fatalities in this category since 2011.
  • Slip, trip and fall fatalities increased 5.6 percent in 2021, from 805 fatalities in 2020 to 850 in 2021. These events continue to be the number one cause of death for construction workers.
  • Construction and extraction occupations suffered the second most occupational deaths (951) in 2021, despite a slight decrease in fatalities from 2020.
  • Emergency and protective service occupations (firefighters, law enforcement workers, police and sheriff’s patrol officers, and transit and railroad police) had an alarming 31.9-percent increase in fatalities in 2021, increasing from 229 in 2020 to 302. Almost half of these fatalities were due to homicides and suicides. About one-third were due to transportation incidents.

Note about Covid* The Bureau’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries covers only physical injuries, so the 5,190 worker deaths does not include workplace-related deaths from illnesses, including Covid-19 and long-term diseases like cancer.

What You Can do to Prevent Workplace Accidents and Fatalities

Looking at the 2021 data tells us that far too many U.S. workers are still getting injured and killed on the job. Action needs to be taken.

Business Owners – Speak with risk managers, HR, and your insurance agent to put programs in place. Your insurance agent can help you work with carriers who may have starting points to programs that you need. Some things to work on is a safety culture, OSHA compliance, proper reporting, etc. At Mod Advisor, we can perform a mod audit for you to show claim trends or problem areas.

Agents – Reach out to prospects and clients with this information. Safety is so important, especially when it comes to workers comp programs. If you want a tool that can provide clam analysis and solutions, our Mod Advisor software could come in handy for your agency.