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Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities

Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by Industry

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) is a Federal/State program in which employer's reports are collected annually from approximately 200,000 private industry and public sector (State and local government) establishments and processed by State agencies in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Summary information on the number of injuries and illnesses is transcribed by these employers directly from their recordkeeping logs to the survey questionnaire. The questionnaire also asks for the number of employee hours worked (needed in the calculation of incidence rates) as well as its annual average employment (needed to verify the unit's employment-size class).

Occupational injury and illness data for establishments in coal, metal, and nonmetal mining industries and for railroad activities are provided by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), respectively. The SOII excludes all work-related fatalities as well as nonfatal work injuries and illnesses to the self-employed; to workers on farms with 10 or fewer employees; to private household workers; to volunteers; and to federal government workers.

Injuries and illnesses logged by employers conform to definitions and recordkeeping guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. Department of Labor. Under OSHA guidelines, nonfatal cases are recordable if they are occupational injuries or illnesses which involve lost worktime, medical treatment other than first aid, restriction of work or motion, loss of consciousness, or transfer to another job. Employers record injuries separate from illnesses and also identify for each whether a case involved any days away from work or days of restricted work activity, or both, beyond the day of injury or onset of illness.

Occupational injuries, such as sprains, cuts, and fractures, account for the vast majority of all cases that employers log and report to the BLS survey. Occupational illnesses are new cases recognized, diagnosed, and reported during the calendar year. Overwhelmingly, reported illnesses are more often acute cases that are easier to directly relate to workplace activity (e.g., contact dermatitis or carpal tunnel syndrome), as opposed to long-term latent illnesses, such as cancers. The latter illnesses that generally would not be known until well after survey data for a particular year have been collected are believed to be under-recorded and, thus, understated in the BLS survey.

Survey estimates are based on a scientifically selected sample of establishments, some of which represent only themselves but most of which also represent other employers of like industry and workforce size that were not chosen to report data in a given survey year.

For each survey, the sample used is one of many possible samples, each of which could have produced different estimates. The variation in the sample across all possible samples that could have been drawn is measured by the standard error. Relative Standard Errors (RSEs) for nearly all survey estimates are available separately if requested by data users. The data also are subject to nonsampling errors which are not measured. Nonsampling errors include such things as data unavailable for some case characteristics, mistakes in recording or coding the data, and definitional difficulties. To minimize nonsampling errors, the Bureau conducts a rigorous training program for survey coders and continues to encourage survey participants to respond fully and accurately to all survey elements.

Public data users can access nonfatal occupational injury and illness information and data in the form of news releases, chart packages, publication tables, fact sheets, special releases, and reports and research articles. Additionally, the public can perform searches for archived data using multiple online databases, which include the data search tools (single-screen and multi-screen) and online profiles.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics, its employees, agents, and partner statistical agencies, use the information reported for the SOII for statistical purposes only and will hold the information in confidence to the full extent permitted by law. In accordance with the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (Title 5 of Public Law 107-347) and other applicable Federal laws, employer-reported responses to the SOII will not be disclosed in identifiable form without the employer’s informed consent.


Last Modified Date: October 6, 2017