2020Workplace Safety

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

In December 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported there were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2019 using data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), a 2 percent increase from the 5,250 in 2018 and the largest annual number since 2007, according to a BLS news release.

The CFOI found the fatal work injury rate was 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the same rate reported in 2018. Work-related deaths have steadily increased over the last five years, and 2019 was the deadliest year since 2007 for deaths on the job. A worker died every 99 minutes from a work-related injury.

Drivers accounted for 1,480 of all fatal work injuries in 2019 – around one in five workers who died on the job. More than 1,060 deaths occurred in the private construction industry, another 12-year high. But workers in the fishing and hunting industry had the highest mortality rates with 145 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.

In addition, an overwhelming number of fatal work injuries were transportation incidents, which accounted for over 2,000 deaths. Falls, slips, and trips followed, with over 880 deaths. Suicides and unintentional overdoses both accounted for more than 300 work-related deaths in 2019. Here are more complete statistics from the CFOI:

Jobs with the highest number of fatal work injuries in 2019:

  • Transportation and material moving: 1,481
  • Construction and extraction: 1.066
  • Service: 762
  • Installation, maintenance, and repair: 438
  • Management, business, financial operations: 409

Jobs with the highest death rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2019:

  • Fishing and hunting: 145 per 100,000
  • Logging: 68.9 per 100,000
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: 61.8 per 100,000
  • Roofers: 54 per 100,000
  • Construction: 40 per 100,000

Fatal work injuries by event in 2019:

  • Transportation incidents: 2,122
  • Falls, slips, trips: 880
  • Violence and other injuries by people or animals (includes homicides and suicides): 841
  • Contact with objects and equipment: 732
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environment (includes substance overdoses): 642

Among the more disturbing trends from the 2019 CFOI was the increase in fatal work injuries among Hispanic and Latino workers. Last year, 1,088 Hispanic or Latino workers died on the job, according to the BLS. Just three years earlier, in 2016, that number was 879. It’s the most marked increase among race and ethnic groups.

The CFOI has published data on fatal work injuries for the United States since 1992. During this time, the classification systems and definitions of many data elements have changed. See the CFOI Definitions page for a more detailed description of each data element. To learn more about the CFOI, visit www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm.

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