Work Safety Introduction

The number of preventable work deaths increased 9% in 2021, totaling 4,472. In addition to preventable fatal work injuries, 718 homicides and suicides occurred in the workplace in 2021. These intentional injuries are not included in the preventable-injury estimates.

The increase in preventable work death in 2021 is partially a result of a 5% increase in the hours worked resulting from the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in hours worked does not fully account for the increase in work deaths. The preventable injury death rate of 3.1 per 100,000 workers is up from 3.0 in 2020. Work-related medically consulted injuries totaled 4.26 million in 2021. 

2021 Occupational Safety Highlights

Preventable injury-related deaths 4,472
Preventable injury-related deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers 3.1
Medically consulted injuries 4,260,000
Workers 152,581
Costs  Not yet available

Source: Deaths reflect National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). All other figures are NSC estimates based on data from BLS.

In 2021, the industry sector experiencing the largest number of preventable fatal injuries was construction, followed by transportation and warehousing. The industry sector experiencing the highest fatality rates per 100,000 workers was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, followed by mining.

Please note: Fatality counts for both professional and business services, as well as government, are NSC estimates and may be underestimates. BLS indicates that these industries did not meet publishable standards for 2021. BLS suppresses industry estimates if they don’t meet certain criteria for both reliability and confidentiality.

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Preventable injuries at work by industry, United States, 2021

Industry division
Hours worked(a) (millions)
Deaths(a) Deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers(a) Medically consulted injuries
2021
Change from 2020
2021
Change from 2020
All industries 284,100 4,472 9% 3.1 3% 4,260,000
Agriculture(b) 4,600 435 -10% 18.9 -8% 110,000
Mining(b) 1,300 94 22% 14.5 41% 10,000
Construction 21,000 946 -1% 9.0 -8% 260,000
Manufacturing 29,600 347 16% 2.3 10% 490,000
Wholesale trade 6,900 150 6% 4.3 2% 90,000
Retail trade 28,200 164 18% 1.2 20% 510,000
Transportation and warehousing 13,500 900 20% 13.3 6% 310,000
Utilities 2,100 32 88% 3.0 100% 20,000
Information 4,900 35 30% 1.4 17% 20,000
Financial activities 20,600 72 11% 0.7 17% 80,000
Professional and business services 35,700(c) 188(c) NA(c) 1.1(c) NA(c) 200,000
Educational and health services 44,600 132 19% 0.6 20% 890,000
Leisure and hospitality 19,800 150 -2% 1.5 -17% 290,000
Other services(b) 12,400 183 31% 3.0 20% 100,000
Government 38,900 311(c) -2% 1.9(c) -6% 880,000
Industry not reported by BLS 333

(a) Deaths include persons of all ages. Workers and death rates include persons 16 years and older. The rate is calculated as: (number of fatal work injuries x 200,000,000/total hours worked). The base for 100,000 full-time equivalent workers is 200,000,000 hours. Prior to 2008, rates were based on estimated employment – not hours worked.
(b) Agriculture includes forestry, fishing, and hunting. Mining includes oil and gas extraction. “Other services” excludes public administration.

(c) BLS did not report the total number of deaths for several industry sectors. The NSC estimate is based on the partial data reported for this industry by injury event.

Source: NSC analysis of data from the BLS CFOI surveillance program.