Fatal Workplace Accidents Statistics in The US

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Legally reviewed by Eric Feldman on October 30, 2023 Eric Feldman is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

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The loss of a loved one in an accident is devastating. It can be a life-altering event for the surviving friends and family of the deceased. Not only does it cause emotional trauma, the surviving loved ones may face serious financial burdens. If the deceased was a breadwinner for the family, the loss of household income could be catastrophic. 

While some industries have a higher number of fatalities, accidents can happen anywhere and to anyone. Unfortunately, the fatal workplace accident statistics in the U.S. show an increasing rate of fatalities at the workplace. An experienced workplace accident attorney can help get the surviving family much-needed financial assistance through verdicts and settlements.  

Common Causes of Fatal Workplace Accidents

  • Exposure to harmful agents or substances
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Violence including being injured by animals 
  • Exposure to infections such as COVID-19
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Fall from an elevated space 
  • Struck-by or impact injuries 
  • Extreme fatigue, burnout, stress, or dehydration
  • Exposure to an unhealthy workplace environment
  • Fire and explosions
  • Injuries caused by heavy machinery or equipment

Fatal Workplace Accidents Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,190 cases of fatal work-related injuries in 2021. The total number of non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the private industry was over 2.6 million in recorded cases in 2021. The highest number of fatal injuries were a result of roadway accidents, slip and fall accidents, and homicides. The median days away from work were reported at 12 days in 2020. The rise in fatal injuries from 2020 was 8.9 percent. The 2021 fatality rate was the highest since 2016. 

The share of Black or African American fatalities was at a record high in 2021, increasing from 11.4% to 12.6% per total number of fatalities. The fatality rate was also high for Hispanic or Latino workers.

The statistics show that transportation incidents remained a major cause of workplace fatal accidents. It accounted for over 38% of all work-related fatalities in 2021. For Black of African American workers, the second highest cause of fatalities was violence at the workplace. For Hispanic or Latino workers, the second highest cause was falls, slips, and trips. 

Exposure to harmful substances in the environment caused nearly 800 fatalities in 2021. This is an alarmingly high number and the highest since 2011.  Non-medical use of drugs or alcohol was also a common cause of fatal accidents at the workplace. 

In terms of occupation, the highest number of workplace deaths happened to drivers including sales workers and truck drivers. Construction and extraction jobs had the second most number of fatalities at 951 in 2021. The number of preventable fatal work injuries was highest in the construction sector, followed by transportation and warehousing, agricultural

Texas, being the second largest state in the U.S., accounted for the maximum number of workplace deaths by state. This was followed by California, Florida, and New York. The deadliest states to work in terms of deaths per 100,000 workers were Alaska at 10.2, North Dakota at 10.1, and Wyoming at 7.7. 

How Can Fatal Workplace Accidents Be Prevented? 

Fatal workplace accidents can be prevented by a proactive approach by the employers and adhering to safety practices by the workers. Employers can set a high standard for health and safety by ensuring they promote a safe work environment. 

Building a safety-first culture can have a significant impact on the number of workplace safety incidents. There should be periodic safety audits and risk assessments to evaluate the existing safety protocols and conditions and identify the areas that need improvement. Allowing the workers to voice their concerns and gathering feedback can be a vital tool for improving workplace safety. 

The workers should be provided with everything they need to stay safe at the workplace. This includes training on how to prevent injuries from different types of safety hazards. All the required safety equipment and tools should be available to the workers. The machinery, equipment, and vehicles at the workplace should be maintained according to manufacturer specifications. Some safety hazards cannot be fixed immediately, so there should be a system for alerting others about any dangerous conditions on site. 

Consult with a Workplace Accident Lawyer 

Even with all the safety measures, precautions, and policies, accidents can still happen. Unfortunately, some workplace accidents lead to fatalities. If you lost a loved one in a workplace accident, you can consult with an experienced workers’ compensation claim lawyer to determine your legal options for recovering compensation for your loss. If the death happened due to someone else’s neglect or wrong song, you have the right to file a lawsuit against them, and an attorney can help you through the process. 

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