Nonfatal workplace injuries increased in 2021, but illnesses dropped significantly

First published by Safety+Health

Washington — The number of reported workplace injuries in the U.S. private sector increased in 2021, but a decline in respiratory illnesses – including COVID-19 – helped drive down the combined number of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, data released Nov. 7 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows.

Workers in the private industry experienced an estimated 2.2 million nonfatal injuries in 2021 – up from 2.1 million the previous year. The rate of nonfatal injuries increased to 2.3 per 100 full-time equivalent workers from 2.2 in 2020.

However, employers reported 365,200 nonfatal illnesses in 2021 – down from 544,600 in 2020. Likewise, the number of recorded respiratory illnesses declined to 269,600 from 428,700 in 2020. By comparison, that total was 10,800 in 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic. BLS states that the 2021 data includes cases of COVID-19 “when a worker was infected as a result of performing their work-related duties and met other recordkeeping criteria.”

Overall, private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021 – a 1.8% decrease from the year before. The rate of total recordable cases remained unchanged, at 2.7 per 100 FTEs.

BLS obtained the estimates from the agency’s Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

Other 2021 data highlights:

  • The transportation and warehousing industry and the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry had the highest rate of nonfatal injuries, each at 4.3 per 100 full-time workers.
  • Health care and social assistance had the highest rate of workplace illnesses, at 115.9 per 10,000 full-time workers. By comparison, the industries with the next highest rates were retail trade (46.2) and manufacturing (42.8).

The data release is the first of two annual reports from BLS. The second, scheduled to be released Dec. 16, will highlight Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries findings.


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BLS: On-the-job deaths at lowest level in seven years

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Washington — A total of 4,764 workers died as a result of on-the-job injuries in 2020 – a 10.7% decrease from the year before and the lowest number of fatalities since 4,585 were recorded in 2013, according to Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data released Dec. 16 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additionally, the overall rate of fatal workplace injuries decreased slightly, to 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2020 from 3.5 the previous year.

Other highlights:

  • More than 1 out of 5 workplace fatalities in 2020 involved Hispanic or Latino workers. The 1,072 deaths among this group represent 22.5% of all workplace fatalities.
  • The 541 deaths among Black workers marks a 14.7% decrease from the previous year.
  • Transportation-related fatalities fell 16.2% to 1,778 while accounting for 37.3% of all fatal work-related injuries.
  • Nearly half of fatal occupational injuries (47.4%) involved workers in transportation/material moving and construction and extraction occupations.
  • Workers in health care support occupations experienced 44 fatal injuries – a 15.8% increase from 2019.
  • Worker suicides fell to 259 in 2020 from 307 the previous year – a 15.6% decrease and the lowest total for on-the-job suicides since 2015.

BLS included additional clarification on the COVID-19 pandemic, stating, “CFOI reports fatal workplace injuries only. These may include fatal workplace injuries complicated by an illness such as COVID-19.” CFOI doesn’t report illness-related information, however, including that for COVID-19.

The data release is the second of two annual BLS reports. The first, released Nov. 3, examined nonfatal injuries and illnesses among private-sector employees.


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