Exposure to Harmful Substances

Exposure to harmful substances or environments

Detailed nonfatal data over 2021-2022

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has transitioned from an annual to a biennial (every two years) publication schedule. The final publication of a single year of cases involving days away from work estimates was for reference year 2020. BLS now publishes detailed data covering 2021 and 2022 for Days Away from Work (DAFW), Days of Job Transfer or Restriction (DJTR), and Days Away from Work, Job Restriction, or Transfer (DART) cases.

Because of illness cases related to COVID-19 (coded as Other diseases due to viruses, not elsewhere classified [n.e.c.]), the leading cause of DAFW cases starting in 2020 has been exposure to harmful substances or environments. Exposure to harmful substances or environments was previously the sixth ranked DAFW cause. Exposure to harmful substances or environments is the third ranked leading cause of DART cases in 2021-2022. In 2021-2022, exposure to harmful substances or environments resulted in 658,240 DART cases that include 634,080 DAFW cases. In 2022, 839 fatalities were reported. More than half of these deaths (525) involved nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol resulting in unintentional overdoses. Since 2011, fatal workplace overdoses have increased 619%. Please note that COVID-19 work related deaths are not recorded because the BLS fatality surveillance system (CFOI) does not track fatal work related illnesses.

Exposure to harmful substances or environments includes:

    • Exposure to electricity
    • Exposure to radiation and noise
    • Exposure to temperature extremes
    • Exposure to air and water pressure change
    • Exposure to other harmful substances
      • Includes contagious and infectious diseases such as COVID-19
    • Exposure to oxygen deficiency, n.e.c.
    • Exposure to traumatic or stressful event, n.e.c.

This infographic provides an overview of the nonfatal trends. The data on nonfatal cases cover occupational injuries and illnesses and come from the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) for 2011-2022. From 2011 through 2020, annual estimates are available for the number of DAFW cases (with or without days of restricted work activity). Starting in 2021, biennial estimates are available for DAFW, DJTR, and DART cases. This page highlights both DAFW and DART estimates. The latest estimate period available reflects cases occurring in 2021 and 2022. Because DAFW data transitioned from annual reporting to biennial reporting in 2021, care should be used when comparing trends. Explore the data details tab for additional information on demographics, industry, occupation, days lost, and historic trends.

See data details