Work-related Fatality Trends

As a result of the economic disruptions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of hours worked decreased 9% in 2020. This marks the first decrease in hours worked since 2009. The decreased hours worked partially accounts for a 10% decrease in preventable work deaths in 2020, now totaling 4,113. This is the first decrease since 2013. Even with this one year decrease, since 2011 the number of preventable work deaths has increased 5%, while the death rate per 100,000 workers has remained unchanged. In addition to preventable fatal work injuries, 651 homicides and suicides occurred in the workplace in 2020. These intentional injuries are not included in the preventable-injury estimates.

Preventable work deaths decreased 10% from 2019 to 2020, following a 2% increase in both 2018 and 2019. The preventable death rate decreased from 3.1 to 3.0 per 100,000 workers. This marks the first decrease since 2013. Work-related medically consulted injuries totaled 4.0 million in 2020.

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Source: Deaths are from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). Employment is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and is based on the Current Population Survey. All other data are National Safety Council (NSC) estimates.

Note: Starting in 2008, BLS moved from employment-based rates to hours-based rates to measure fatal injury risk per standardized length of exposure, which are generally considered more accurate than employment-based rates. Caution should be used when comparing with rates prior to 2008.

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