Work Injuries and Illnesses by Part of Body

The National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data finds that, for the first time, body systems was the body part category most frequently affected by injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2020. The increase in prevalence of body system injuries and illnesses is largely because of COVID-19 related cases (coded as Other diseases due to viruses, n.e.c.).  Body system related injuries and illnesses accounted for over 34% of the total 1,176,340 injuries and illnesses in private industry.

Regarding specific body parts, back-related injuries were most prevalent followed by hand injuries and leg injuries. Across all lost time cases due to injuries and illnesses, the median number of days lost per incident increased from 8 in 2019 to 12 in 2020.

Median days lost by select body parts:

  • Head: 4
  • Back:  9
  • Foot: 13
  • Body system: 13
  • Wrist: 15
  • Knee: 18
  • Shoulder: 28

The nonfatal data covers occupational injuries and illnesses in the private sector and comes from the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses for 2020. Historic data are also available by hovering over data points to see trends from 2011 through 2020 or by adjusting the year filter. The estimates are the number of cases involving days away from work (with or without days of restricted work activity). This data does not cover the self-employed or unpaid family workers. These estimates also exclude federal, state, and local government employees.

Data are presented for the sex, age, occupation, and industry of the worker; and for the nature of the injury or illness, the source of the injury or illness, and the event or exposure that produced the injury or illness. For a more accurate comparison of injury and illness frequency, adjust the category “level of detail” filter to compare categories of similar scope.

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