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Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities

Fatal occupational injuries to contracted workers

Fatal work injuries incurred by contracted workers increased to 829 in 2015 from 802 in 2014. In the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), a contracted worker is employed by one firm but working for another firm that is responsible for the operations at the site where the worker was killed. Please see for more details. CFOI first collected data on contracted workers in 2011.

Contracted worker scenario examples

  • A self-employed plumber is contracted by a department store to fix a water fountain in the store.
  • A tree trimmer is contracted by a golf course to trim a large tree next to the 6th green.
  • An electrician is contracted by commercial construction firm to install wiring at a construction site.
  • A heavy machinery mechanic is contracted by an oil and gas extraction firm to repair machinery at an oil well.
  • A truck driver is contracted by a farm to pick up vegetables at the farm to transport to market.


CFOI collects two types of industry data for contracted workers. The contracting industry is the industry of the firm that contracts the worker. The employer industry is the industry of the firm that directly employs the worker. Take this example: a security guard working for a security firm is contracted by a nightclub to work as a bouncer. If the worker is killed at the nightclub, the contracting industry is the nightclub and the employer industry is the security firm.

The largest contracting industries for fatally injured contracted workers were the private construction industry (210 in 2015); government entities (147); the private trade, transportation, and utilities industries (95); and the private financial activities industry (75). Firms in the private construction industry often use subcontractors to complete specialized tasks (like electrical, plumbing, glazing, etc.). Government entities typically employ contracted workers in road construction, educational settings, and for utility work. Real estate and rental and leasing firms use contracted workers for building repairs and maintenance (like elevator repair and window washing).

Fatal occupational injuries to contracted workers, by contracting industry, 2011–15
Contracting Industry 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

All contracted workers

542 715 749 802 829

Private industry

420 564 601 652 682


115 136 140 164 210

Trade, transportation, and utilities

59 96 116 107 95

Financial activities

59 54 63 81 75

Real estate and rental and leasing

54 48 58 76 70


43 67 59 70 72

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting

31 44 35 40 55

Leisure and hospitality

30 49 40 43 46

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

27 67 59 74 45

Other services, except public administration

14 16 28 20 30

All other private sector

42 35 61 53 54

Government entities

122 151 148 150 147

For the employer industry (the industry in which the worker is directly employed), 497 of the fatally injured contracted workers were employed by a private construction firm in 2015. Another 125 fatally injured workers were employed in administrative and support and waste management and remediation services. That industry includes temporary help services, landscaping services, and security services.


Construction laborers accounted for the largest number of fatal occupational injuries among contracted workers, with 135 fatalities in 2015. Just under 60 percent of all construction laborers who died in 2015 from a work-related injury were contracted workers.

View Data

Contracted workers account for a small part of fatalities in some occupations—for example, 8 percent of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in 2015. Contracted workers constitute a much larger share of fatalities in other occupations—for example, 94 percent of structural iron and steel workers.

Background Information

A complete data table for contracted workers can be found at For technical information and definitions, please see the BLS Handbook of Methods at

You can obtain data from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program by using the following tools: Create Customized Tables (Multiple Screens), Create Customized Tables (Single Screen), and the Online Profiles System. Additional tables and charts are on the IIF homepage and the IIF State page.


Last Modified Date: January 26, 2024