Worker Fatalities Have Increased
By Erin Tucker
Two months ago the US Department of Labor issued its national census of fatal occupational injuries for the year 2021. It’s not good news. The number of fatal work injuries increased almost 9% over 2020: a total of 5190 deaths.
Here are some other key findings from the census.
-- A worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury in 2021.
-- The share of Black workers fatally injured on the job reached an all time high in 2021, climbing to 653 in 2021, a 20.7 percent increase from 2020.
-- Workers in transportation and material moving occupations experienced a high of 1,523 fatal work injuries in 2021, an increase of 18.8 percent from 2020 — the occupational group with the highest number of fatalities.
-- Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event in 2021 with 1,982 fatal injuries, an increase of 11.5 percent from 2020. This category accounted for more than 38 percent of all work-related fatalities for 2021.
-- Fatalities due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased by almost 8 percent to 761 fatalities in 2021. The largest subcategory, intentional injuries by a person, increased 10.3 percent.
-- Exposure to harmful substances or environments led to 798 worker fatalities in 2021, the highest figure since 2011 when tracking this category began. It also experienced the largest increase yet in fatalities, up 18.8 percent from 2020.
-- Work related fatalities due to falls, slips and trips increased 5.6 percent — from 805 fatalities in 2020 to 850 in 2021. Falls, slips and trips in construction and extraction occupations accounted for 370 of these fatalities in 2021, an increase of over 7 percent from 2020.
Underreporting is widespread. According to the AFL/CIO union, the true toll of work-related injuries and illness is 5.4 to 8.1 million each year.
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