Work Safety Introduction

The number of preventable work deaths decreased 10% in 2020, totaling 4,113. 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.

The large decrease in preventable work death in 2020 is partially a result of a 9% decrease in the hours worked resulting from the economic disruption associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It should also be noted that this fatality count does not reflect any COVID-19 work-related illness deaths. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) fatality surveillance system does not include the tracking of illness deaths.  The preventable injury death rate of 3.0 per 100,000 workers (down from 3.1) marks the first decrease since 2016. Work-related medically consulted injuries totaled 4.0 million in 2020. 

2020 Occupational Safety Highlights

Preventable injury-related deaths 4,113
Preventable injury-related deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers 3.0
Medically consulted injuries 4,000,000
Workers 148,982
Costs 163.9 Billion

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 2020, 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 transportation and warehousing.

Please note: Comparison to 2019 data is not available for several industry sectors. BLS did not report fatality data at the private industry level for several major industry sectors in 2019. BLS indicates that these industries did not meet publishable standards for 2019. BLS suppresses industry estimates if they don’t meet certain criteria for both reliability and confidentiality.

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  • Data Table
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  • Data Table

Preventable injuries at work by industry, United States, 2020

Industry division
Hours worked(a) (millions)
Deaths(a) Deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers(a) Medically consulted injuries
2020
Change from 2019
2020
Change from 2019
All industries 269,900 4,113 -10% 3.0 -3% 4,000,000
Agriculture(b) 4,700 481 -11% 20.5 -7% 110,000
Mining(b) 1,500 77 -37% 10.3 -29% 10,000
Construction 19,600 958 -4% 9.8 7% 250,000
Manufacturing 28,900 300 NA(c) 2.0 NA(c) 450,000
Wholesale trade 6,700 141 -12% 4.2 -5% 80,000
Retail trade 26,800 139 -15% 1.0 -9% 420,000
Transportation and warehousing 11,900 749 -14% 12.6 -5% 240,000
Utilities 2,200 17 -10% 1.5 -12% 20,000
Information 4,600 27 NA(c) 1.2 NA(c) 20,000
Financial activities 20,200 65 -8% 0.6 -14% 80,000
Professional and business services 34,300(d) 354(d) NA(c) 2.1(d) NA(c) 190,000
Educational and health services 42,400 111 -30% 0.5 -29% 1,060,000
Leisure and hospitality 17,100 153 -13% 1.8 20% 230,000
Other services (b) 11,100 140 -9% 2.5 9% 100,000
Government 37,900 316 1% 1.7 6% 740,000
Industry not reported by BLS 82

(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) Comparison to 2019 is not available. BLS did not report fatality data at the private industry level for several major industry sectors in 2019. BLS indicates these industries did not meet publishable standards for 2019. BLS suppresses industry estimates if they don’t meet certain criteria for both reliability and confidentiality. In 2019 BLS updated the standards for confidentiality.

(d) The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not report the total number of deaths for the Professional and business services industry sector in 2020. 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.