For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Friday, December 16, 2016 USDL-16-2304
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NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2015
A total of 4,836 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2015, a slight increase from the
4,821 fatal injuries reported in 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See chart 1.)
This release marks the first time that the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) has published a single,
annual release with no revisions and will be the only release for 2015 CFOI data. A similar schedule will be
followed in future years. Preliminary releases, which appeared in August or September in past years, will no
longer be produced.
Key findings of the 2015 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:
- Annual total of 4,836 fatal workplace injuries in 2015 was the highest since 5,214 fatal injuries in 2008.
- The overall rate of fatal work injury for workers in 2015, at 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE)
workers, was lower than the 2014 rate of 3.43.
- Hispanic or Latino workers incurred 903 fatal injuries in 2015—the most since 937 fatalities in 2007.
- Workers age 65 years and older incurred 650 fatal injuries, the second-largest number for the group since
the national census began in 1992, but decreased from the 2014 figure of 684.
- Roadway incident fatalities were up 9 percent from 2014 totals, accounting for over one-quarter of the fatal
occupational injuries in 2015.
- Workplace suicides decreased 18 percent in 2015; homicides were up 2 percent from 2014 totals.
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers recorded 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation.
- The 937 fatal work injuries in the private construction industry in 2015 represented the highest total
since 975 cases in 2008.
- Fatal injuries in the private oil and gas extraction industries were 38 percent lower in 2015 than 2014.
- Seventeen percent of decedents were contracted by and performing work for another business or government
entity in 2015 rather than for their direct employer at the time of the incident.
(Chart 1 appears here in the printed news release.)
Non-Hispanic Black or African-American workers incurred 495 fatal work injuries in 2015, the most since 2008,
though the rate of fatal injury remained the same as 2014 at 3.2 per 100,000 FTE workers. Fatal injuries
involving Hispanic or Latino workers rose 12 percent in 2015 to 903 fatalities, up from 804 in 2014. The Hispanic
or Latino worker rate also rose from 3.7 to 4.0 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2015 and was the highest rate among
the racial/ethnic groups for which rates are calculated (see table 1).
The number of fatally-injured workers born in Mexico rose 22 percent in 2015 to 415 cases from 340 in 2014.
Overall, fatal injuries involving foreign-born workers were at the highest level since 2007. Fatally-injured
workers in 2015 who were born abroad came from about 100 different countries.
While workers age 45 years and older accounted for 58 percent of workplace fatalities in 2015, they accounted
for only 45 percent of the total hours worked. Fatal injury rates were generally lower among younger
workers (2.3 per 100,000 FTE workers for those age 25 to 34 years) and higher among older workers (9.4 per
100,000 FTE workers for those age 65 years and older).
Fatal injuries among wage and salary workers rose slightly in 2015, but were lower among self-employed workers.
Self-employed workers, however, had a fatal injury rate that was 4 times higher than the rate for wage and
salary workers (13.1 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers compared with 2.8 for wage and salary workers). While
women accounted for 43 percent of the hours worked in 2015, they accounted for only 7 percent of the
Type of incident
The number of fatal work injuries involving transportation incidents, the incident leading to the most fatal work
injuries, increased in 2015. Roadway incidents were up 9 percent in 2015 to 1,264 and accounted for 26 percent
of all fatal work injuries (see chart 2). Almost half of these fatalities (629) involved a semi, tractor-trailer,
or tanker truck. Of the 253 non-roadway fatalities in 2015, the most frequent vehicle involved was a farm
tractor (73). Fatal injuries involving pedestrians were lower in 2015, as were rail and water vehicle incidents.
(Chart 2 appears here in the printed news release.)
Violence and other injuries by persons or animals resulted in 703 fatal injuries in 2015, down 8 percent from
the 2014 total (see table 2). The number of work-related suicides dropped to 229 in 2015 from 280 in 2014.
Workplace homicides rose by 2 percent to 417 cases in 2015, with shootings increasing by 15 percent, the first
increase since 2012. Assailants in workplace homicides differed greatly depending on the gender of the decedent.
Approximately 43 percent of female decedents were fatally assaulted by a relative or domestic partner; the
corresponding figure for male decedents was 2 percent.
Falls to a lower level accounted for 81 percent of all fatal falls. Of those cases where the height of the fall
was known, more than two-fifths of fatal falls occurred from 15 feet or lower. Fatal falls to a lower level
accounted for nearly 40 percent of fatal work injuries in the private construction industry in 2015.
Workers were fatally struck by an object or equipment 519 times in 2015. Workers were most frequently struck by
plants, trees, and vegetation (110); highway vehicles (104); and construction, logging, and mining
Fatal exposures to electricity were down in 2015, but fatalities due to exposure to temperature extremes rose.
Workplace deaths due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol, unintentional overdose, increased 45 percent in 2015
to 165. A total of 136 workers were killed in incidents associated with confined spaces in 2015. The number of
workers who died in multiple-fatality incidents (incidents where more than one worker was killed) was down
9 percent to 343 fatalities in 2015. These 343 decedents were killed in 134 separate incidents.
Fatal injuries among construction and extraction occupations rose by 2 percent to 924 cases in 2015—the highest
level since 2008. Several construction occupations recorded their highest fatality total in years, including
construction laborers (highest since 2008); carpenters (2009); electricians (2009); and plumbers, pipefitters,
and steamfitters (2003). In contrast, fatal injuries among extraction workers were down sharply to 45 in 2015
from 88 in 2014.
Transportation and material moving occupations recorded fewer fatal injuries in 2015 than in 2014, but still
accounted for over one-fourth of all fatal work injuries in 2015. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
incurred 745 fatal work injuries in 2015, the most of any occupation. Fatal injuries among aircraft pilots
and flight engineers were down 30 percent in 2015 to a series low of 57 fatalities (see chart 3) although they
did have a high fatal injury rate compared to all workers. Aircraft incidents in 2015 were at their highest
level since 2011 even with this decrease for aircraft pilots and flight engineers.
Fatal injuries in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations increased 10 percent in 2015 to 284 fatalities—the
highest level reported for that occupational group in 7 years. Fatalities among agricultural workers rose to 180,
an increase of 22 percent from the 148 cases reported in 2014. Farmworkers and laborers involved in crop,
nursery, and greenhouse operations recorded 106 fatalities, an increase of 33 percent from 2014 and matched
highest total ever reported (in 2010) for that occupational group.
Fatal injuries among building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers rose 15 percent to 289 in 2015, a
series high. Fatal injuries involving grounds maintenance workers increased to 183 in 2015 from 158 in 2014,
which matched the series high in 2011. These workers also had a rate 4 times higher than the national
rate—15.0 per 100,000 FTE workers compared with 3.4 for all workers (see table 3).
(Chart 3 appears here in the printed news release.)
Resident military fatalities rose to 73 in 2015 from 56 in 2014. Multiple fatality incidents account for 49 percent
of fatalities to the resident military and 7 percent to all workers.
Industry and contracted workers
Fatal injuries in the private construction industry rose 4 percent in 2015 to 937 from 899 in 2014 (see chart 4).
The 2015 total for construction was the highest since 2008 and was primarily led by an increase in fatal injuries
among specialty trade contractors, though the rate for construction remained statistically unchanged. The largest
increase among specialty trade contractors involved foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors whose
fatal injury total rose 27 percent to 231 fatal injuries in 2015 from 182 in 2014.
The private mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry recorded fewer fatal injuries in 2015,
declining 34 percent to 120 fatal injuries from 183 in 2014 (see table 4). Fatal work injuries in the combined
oil and gas extraction industries (North American Industry Classification System [NAICS] 21111, 213111, and 213112)
were 38 percent lower. The 2015 combined total for oil and gas extraction industries was the lowest since 2009.
Fatal injuries in the private manufacturing industry rose slightly in 2015 to 353 from 349 in 2014. Though the
increase in manufacturing was small, the 2015 fatal injury total for manufacturing was the highest for that industry
sector since 2008. The rate remained statistically unchanged from 2014.
Wholesale trade declined 8 percent to 175 cases in 2015—a series low. The number of private transportation and
warehousing fatalities was essentially unchanged from 2014, but fatal injuries in the private truck transportation
industry rose 9 percent to 546 in 2015, the highest total since 2007.
(Chart 4 appears here in the printed news release.)
Public sector workers accounted for 9 percent of all occupational fatalities. These government workers had a lower
fatal injury rate (1.9 per 100,000 FTEs) than their private sector counterparts (3.6).
Fatalities among contracted workers rose to 829 in 2015 from 802 in 2014 and accounted for 17 percent of all
fatalities in 2015. Workers were most often contracted by a firm in the private construction industry (210) or
by a government entity (147).
State and metropolitan statistical area (MSA)
Twenty-one states reported higher numbers of fatal injuries in 2015 than in 2014 while 29 states and the
District of Columbia reported fewer fatalities. Six states recorded fatal injury totals in 2015 that were at
or below the lowest total ever reported for those states – Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Maine, Virginia, and
Although data for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are not included in the national totals for
this release, results for these jurisdictions are available. Participating agencies may be contacted to request
more detailed state results. Contact information is available at www.bls.gov/iif/oshstate.htm.
Detailed 2015 data are also available on fatal work injuries for more than 50 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs),
and counts of fatal work injuries are available for over 350 MSAs.
| Corrections to 2014 CFOI rate data |
|The published fatal occupational injury rates and the total hours worked for 12 occupations, 2 industries, and |
|for Asian, non-Hispanic workers were improperly calculated. For details on the affected rates and products, please |
|visit www.bls.gov/bls/errata/cfoi-errata-2016.htm. |