The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its 2021 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. We share the key findings and recommendations to prevent a workplace fatality in this blog post.

Data from state, federal and independent sources show an 8.9 percent increase for workplace fatalities. In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4,764 fatal work injuries. The latest census reported 5,190 for the year.

Key findings from the 2021 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries are as follows:

  • A worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury in 2021.
  • Black and Latino workers had fatality rates disproportionately higher than their co-workers in 2021.
    • Deaths for this group climbed to 653 in 2021 from 541 in 2020, a 20.7 percent increase. The fatality rate for this group increased from 3.5 in 2020 to 4.0 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2021.
  • Workers in transportation and material moving occupations represent the occupational group with the highest number of fatalities.
    • A series high of 1,523 fatal work injuries in 2021.
    • This is an increase of 18.8 percent from 2020.
  • Transportation incidents remain the most frequent type of fatal event in 2021 with 1,982 injuries.
    • This is an increase of 11.5 percent from 2020 and accounted for 38.2 percent of all work-related fatalities.
  • Transportation incidents were the highest cause of fatalities within Black and Latino workers.
  • The primary factor behind the increase in fatalities to workers in transportation was due to a 16.3 percent increase in deaths for driver/sales workers and truck drivers.
  • Workers between the ages of 45 and 54 suffered 1,087 workplace fatalities.
    • A 13.9 percent increase from 2020. This age group accounted for over 1/5th of the total of fatalities for the year.
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments led to 798 worker fatalities in 2021, the highest since 2011.
    • Unintentional overdose from nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol accounted for 58.1 percent of these fatalities (464 deaths), up from 57.7 percent in 2020.

Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for OSHA, demands for a call to action in order to make workplaces safer around the nation. “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. OSHA and its thousands of professionals across the nation are determined to enforce the law while working with employers, workers, labor unions, trade associations and other stakeholders to ensure that every worker in the U.S. ends their workday safely”, states Parker.

Preventing these incidents can be initiated in many ways. For some examples:

  • For transportation, it may be time to review current fleet safety programs.
  • Worker fatalities related to harmful substances can be tackled through a substance abuse program.
  • Ensure that training materials provided are in in a comprehensible language for the workforce.

Implementing or reviewing current policies and procedures is a great start to making the workplace safer.  You can contact a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) advisor to see what risk management and safety training options are the right fit for your company.

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