workplace fatalities

Workplace Fatalities Declined in 2020

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its latest data on workplace fatalities, revealing a sharp decline in work-related deaths.

A Decrease of 10.7 Percent

On December 16, 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 2020, the most recent year for which workplace fatalities were calculated.

According to the CFOI, there were 4,764 fatal work injuries across the United States that year, a 10.7-percent decrease from the 5,333 workplace deaths recorded in 2019. That is the equivalent of 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers, down from 3.5 per 100,000 employees in 2019. Overall, a worker died every 111 minutes from an on-the-job injury in 2020.

Among the key findings from the 2020 COFI were the following:

  • Workplace fatalities were at their lowest number since 2013.
  • Occupational suicides decreased 15.6 percent from 307 in 2019 to 259 in 2020, the lowest count for workplace suicides since 2015.
  • Transportation accidents continued to be the most common type of work-related fatality with 1,778 deadly injuries, accounting for 37.3 percent of all workplace deaths. Nevertheless, fatal transportation incidents still fell 16.2 percent to 1,778 in 2020, down from 2,122 in 2019.
  • Salespeople and office and administration support professionals had a 19.0-percent decline in fatal occupational injuries, down to 269 deaths in 2020 compared to 332 in 2019.
  • The rate of deadly injuries for pilots and flight engineers decreased from 61.8 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2019 to 34.3 in 2020.
  • Fatalities from violence and other injuries inflicted by people or animals decreased from 841 deaths in 2019 to 705 in 2020, a decline of 16.2 percent. Women accounted for 16.3 percent of workplace homicides in 2020 even though they made up only 8.1 percent of all on-the-job fatalities.
  • Black or African American worker deaths were down by 14.7 percent, falling from 634 in 2019 to 541 in 2020.
  • Employees between the ages of 45 and 54 suffered 954 workplace fatalities in 2020, the lowest number recorded for this age group since 1992.

Workplace Fatalities Up in Certain Sectors

While there was an overall downward trend in workplace fatalities, deadly workplace incidents were up in certain sectors, including the following:

  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments accounted for the deaths of 672 workers in 2020, the highest figure since the series began in 2011. Unintentional overdose deaths from nonmedical use of drugs resulted in 57.7 percent of fatalities or 388 deaths within this category, up from 48.8 percent in 2019.
  • Workplace fatalities in healthcare occupations increased 15.8 percent to 44 deaths in 2020 compared to 38 deaths the previous year.
  • Fatal occupational injuries among law enforcement workers increased 18.6 percent in 2020, up to 115 deaths from the 97 recorded in 2019.
  • The proportion of Hispanic or Latino workers killed in on-the-job incidents continued to rise, increasing from 20.4 percent (1,088 deaths) in 2019 to 22.5 percent (1,072 deaths) in 2020.

Nonfatal Injuries Decline as Illnesses Rise

In a separate report issued on November 3, 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nonfatal workplace injuries also declined, with private industry employers reporting 2.1 million nonfatal injuries in 2020 compared to 2.7 million in 2019 – a drop of more than 22 percent. Additionally, the rate of injury cases decreased amongst private employers from 2.2 cases per 100 FTE workers to 2.6 cases in 2019.

In contrast, the number of workplace illnesses more than quadrupled in this same period to 544,600 cases, up from the 127,200 illnesses reported in 2019. The rate of illness cases also increased from 12.4 cases per 10,000 FTE workers to 55.9. In both instances, the increase was driven by a sharp uptick in respiratory illnesses, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, there was a nearly 4,000-percent spike in employer-reported respiratory illnesses, up from 10,800 in 2019 to 428,700 in 2020 – a rate of 44 respiratory illness cases per 10,000 FTE workers compared to 1.1 cases the previous year.

The agency did not release any data about the number or percentage of injured employees who retained workers’ compensation attorneys to assist them with their claims during this time.

Dedicated to Helping Illinois Workers

While the recent statistics about fatal and nonfatal workplace injuries are encouraging, far too many people are still hurt on the job across the United States. Fortunately, if you suffer a work injury in Illinois, you may be eligible for certain benefits under the law. To make sure that you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled, consider doing what thousands of others have done before you and reach out to the knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.

With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in the state. We have been helping Illinois workers in nearly every profession who have sustained practically every type of workplace injury for more than four decades. GWC’s dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success you need to get you and your family the justice you deserve.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney, contact GWC today. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives at any time.