Workplace Fatality Rate Rose Nearly 9% in 2021

  • Published
  • 20 December 2022
  • Category
  • News

In 2021, a U.S. employee died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury. The 5,190 workplace fatalities recorded in 2021 represent a nearly 9 percent increase compared to 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

The fatality rate was 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the highest annual rate since 2016. By comparison, the fatality rate was 3.4 per 100,000 FTEs in 2020 and 3.5 per 100,000 in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

In addition, according to 2021 data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

  • Workers in transportation and material-moving occupations had the highest number of fatalities as an industry group (1,523 deaths).
  • Transportation-related incidents were the most common cause of fatalities (1,982 deaths), an increase of 11.5 percent from 2020 that accounted for 38.2 percent of work-related fatalities in 2021.
  • Fatality rates for Black or African American workers and Hispanic or Latino workers were 4.0 and 4.5 per 100,000 FTEs, respectively.
  • Women suffered 8.6 percent of all workplace fatalities but represented 14.5 percent of intentional injuries by a person.
  • Workers aged 45 to 54 accounted for 1,087 workplace fatalities (21 percent of all deaths), a 14 percent increase from 2020.

“A one-year increase of nearly 9 percent in fatal work injuries serves as a call to action for OSHA, employers and other stakeholders to redouble our collective efforts to make our nation’s workplaces safer,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Each of these deaths cruelly impacts these workers’ families, friends, co-workers and communities. They are clear reminders of the important work that must be done.”

Click here for related data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

WorkCare’s holistic approach to occupational health and safety, including injury prevention and management, industrial athlete interventions and wellness programs, supports efforts to lower injury incident and fatality rates in U.S. workplaces. Visit our website services pages and contact WorkCare at to learn more.