Musculoskeletal Injuries

Detailed nonfatal data for 2021 are not currently available.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is transitioning 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 is for reference year 2020. In the fall of 2023, BLS will publish detailed data covering 2021 and 2022 for both Days Away from Work (DAFW) and for Days of Job Transfer or Restriction (DJTR) cases.

The private sector experienced 247,620 musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) injuries or illnesses involving days away from work in 2020. MSDs are a grouping of related injuries sometimes referred to as “ergonomic injuries.” MSDs generally occur when the worker uses muscles, tendons, and ligaments to perform tasks in awkward positions or in frequent activities that, over time, create pain and injury. MSDs are defined by BLS as the combination of certain natures of injury or illness and events or exposures.

To be considered a MSD, the nature of the injury or illness must be one of the following:

  • pinched nerve;
  • herniated disc;
  • meniscus tear;
  • sprains, strains, tears;
  • hernia (traumatic and nontraumatic);
  • pain, swelling, and numbness;
  • carpal or tarsal tunnel syndrome;
  • Raynaud’s syndrome or phenomenon;
  • or musculoskeletal system and connective tissue diseases and disorders.

In addition, one of the following events or exposures must lead to the injury or illness:

  • overexertion and bodily reaction, unspecified;
  • overexertion involving outside sources;
  • repetitive motion involving microtasks;
  • other and multiple exertions or bodily reactions;
  • or rubbed, abraded, or jarred by vibration.

This infographic provides an overview of the nonfatal trends involving days away from work including nature of injury, part of body injured, and event or exposure. Explore the data details tab for additional information on demographics, industry, occupation, days lost, and historic trends.



See data details