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Handbook of Methods Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Concepts

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries: Concepts

Since 1992, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) has collected and published a comprehensive count of work-related fatal injuries and descriptive data on their circumstances. Limited information on fatalities had been available since 1972 from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).

CFOI data help safety and health experts and policymakers monitor the number and types of deadly work injuries over time and to identify factors associated with particularly high risks, such as driving a tractor trailer truck or working in the commercial fishing industry.⁠⁠1 Fatal injury profiles can be generated from the CFOI database for specific worker populations (such as the self-employed or female workers), for certain types of machinery (such as farm equipment), and for specific fatal circumstances (such as pedestrian fatalities in a work zone). Such profiles help identify existing work standards that may require revision and highlight safety hazards where intervention strategies may need to be developed.

CFOI is widely regarded as the leading source for data on fatal injuries in the workplace. In 1994 and 1995, several groups of safety experts, including the National Safety Council and the National Center for Health Statistics, endorsed CFOI as the official count of work-related fatalities.

In accordance with Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) policies, individually identifiable data collected by CFOI are used exclusively for statistical purposes and some are considered confidential. Some of these data are collected under a pledge of confidentiality and therefore are protected under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA) (Title V of Public Law 107-347).

Scope of CFOI

CFOI includes data for all fatal work injuries as long as the decedent was engaged in an activity related to work. Further clarification on the scope of CFOI can be found on the CFOI scope page.

CFOI includes data for all fatal work injuries, regardless of whether the decedent was working in a job covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), other federal or state agency, or whether the job was covered by state workers’ compensation. Consequently, comparisons made between the BLS fatality census counts and those released by other federal or state agencies should take into account the different coverage requirements and definitions used by each agency.

Fatal occupational illnesses not caused by an acute exposure are not included in CFOI. For many illnesses, the latency period between time of exposure and onset of illness as well as the fact that illnesses are often attributed to multiple individual and environmental causes pose uncertainties to linking illnesses directly to the workplace. Compiling a complete census of fatal illnesses within a given year is not feasible for the program. As a result, information on illness-related deaths is excluded from the CFOI count.

The CFOI includes all deaths in the reference year. This may include deaths that resulted from workplace injuries that occur in a prior year. However, typically around 95 percent of deaths occur within the same year as the injury. There is currently no limit on the length of time between the injury and death that would result in excluding a case from the CFOI. The CFOI does not revise data for past years.

Differences in coverage between CFOI and SOII

CFOI covers not only private, state government, and local government wage and salary workers covered in SOII, but also workers on small farms, the self-employed, family workers, and federal government workers not covered by SOII. Exhibit 1 details the differences between CFOI and SOII.

Because of these scope coverage differences, outlined in exhibit 1, CFOI and SOII data are not directly comparable.

Exhibit 1. Scope of covered incidents in Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOII) and Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII)
Characteristic CFOI SOII
Collection method Uses multiple source documents (e.g., death certificates, workers’ compensation reports, and media reports) to substantiate each case, ensuring a census. Uses a sample of approximately 230,000 establishments to generate detailed estimates. Mandatory survey from BLS for private sector establishments.⁠1
Geographic scope Data are collected from each state, the District of Columbia, New York City, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Data are collected from participating states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.⁠2
Private sector workers Included Included
Government workers Includes federal, state, local, foreign, and other government workers Includes state and local workers since 2008 uniformly across the nation⁠3
Self-employed Included Not included⁠4
Volunteer workers Included⁠5 Varies⁠6
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting Included Agriculture establishments (NAICS 111 and 112) with more than 10 employees⁠7
Mining Included Included⁠8
Railroad Included Included⁠9
Treatment of temporary workers Coded to the industry in which they are directly employed⁠10 Coded to the industry in which they were injured
Specific industries All included Private households, Postal workers (NAICS 491), space research and technology (NAICS 927), and national security and international affairs (NAICS 928) not included ⁠11
Illnesses Not included Included
Age of workers included All All
Cases that occur in territorial waters Included Included⁠12

⁠1 Government establishments are not necessarily required by law to respond. “For State and local government employers, your State laws determine whether (SOII) is mandatory.”

⁠2 Data for nonparticipating states are collected and used solely for the tabulation of national estimates.

⁠3 SOII does not cover workers regulated by other federal agencies, 29 U.S.C. § 653(b)(1) (2011) For example, mines regulated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration or rail transportation firms regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration, nor does it cover federal workers per 29 U.S.C. § 652(5) (2011).

⁠4 Self-employed workers are not covered by the Occupational Safety Act of 1970.

⁠5 See Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI): Definitions, and Matthew M. Gunter, "Fatal Occupational Injuries to Volunteer Workers, 2003–2007," Compensation and Working Conditions,   (Gunter, 2010).

⁠6 Different state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans may cover volunteers. For more information on if a state covers volunteers, please contact the respective state OSHA office. National OSHA regulations do not cover volunteer workers, please see 29 C.F.R. § 1904(31)(a) (2013). See also:

⁠7 The “small agriculture” exclusion is due to a recurring appropriations rider for OSHA that exempts agricultural operations employing 10 or fewer employees from the 1970 OSH Act in its entirety, including mandatory response to the BLS annual survey (Pollack and Gellerman Keimig, 1987: 19). See for example, OSHA Directive CPL-02-00-051.

⁠8 Mining data are collected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and are provided to SOII for inclusion in the estimates.

⁠9 Railroad data are collected by the Federal railroad Administration (FRA) and are provided to SOII for inclusion in the estimates.

⁠10 Starting in 2011, CFOI began collecting information on contractors and now temporary workers are coded to their directly employed industry as in the past, but also the industry to which they were fatally injured in as well, contractor industry. For more information on contractor data in CFOI see:

⁠11 Though technically no longer excluded from coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 due to amended language in the 1998 Postal Employees Safety Enhancement Act, BLS has not yet modified SOII to include the U.S. Postal Service.

⁠12 Cases that occur in territorial waters within 3 nautical miles from the general coastline or 9 nautical miles (3 leagues) from Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are included. For additional rules including if the vessel is attached to the seabed see:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At-work and injury definitions for CFOI

A traumatic injury is defined as any wound or damage to the body resulting from acute exposure to energy, such as heat or electricity; impact from a crash or fall; or from the absence of such essentials as heat or oxygen, caused by a specific event or incident within a single workday or shift. Included are open wounds, intracranial and internal injuries, heatstroke, hypothermia, asphyxiation, acute poisonings resulting from short-term exposures limited to the worker's shift, suicides and homicides, and work injuries listed as underlying or contributory causes of death. Heart attacks and strokes are considered illnesses and therefore excluded from CFOI unless a traumatic injury contributed to the death.

A case is included in CFOI if the injury or injuries incurred during the incident contribute in any way to the death. The injury or injuries need not be the sole, or even the primary, cause of death. So long as a traumatic injury played some role in the death, it would be included in CFOI provided the other criteria are also met.

In CFOI, a person is considered at work if an event or exposure results in the fatal injury or illness of a person:

  • ON the employer's premises and the person was there to work; or

  • OFF the employer's premises and the person was there to work, or the event or exposure was related to the person's work or status as an employee.

The employer's premises include buildings, grounds, parking lots, and other facilities and property used in the conduct of business. Work is defined as duties, activities, or tasks that produce a product (physical, digital, or experiential), result, or service; that are done in exchange for money, goods, services, profit, benefit, or other compensation, or in a volunteer capacity; and, that are legal activities in the jurisdiction they occurred in the United States.

For a fatality to be included in CFOI, the decedent must have been self-employed, working for pay, or volunteering at the time of the incident; engaged in a legal work activity; and present at the site of the incident as a job requirement.⁠⁠2 These criteria are generally broader than those used by federal and state agencies administering specific laws and regulations. Fatalities that occur during a person’s normal commute to or from work are excluded from CFOI counts. Workers who are fatally injured while in their home offices generally have to be undertaking a task related to their job when the fatal incident occurred. Since those who work from home will spend a good amount of time at home while not in work status, there must be a definitive link to work for the worker to be included in CFOI.

There are many combinations of the general guidelines listed above that can deem a fatality to be work related or not. For detailed descriptions and examples of the scope criteria for CFOI, see the CFOI Scope Determination Handbook.

For more information on the CFOI scope, definitions, and variables of interest, see the CFOI definitions page. The frequently asked questions page also contains useful information.

Data elements

Over 30 data elements are collected, coded, and tabulated in CFOI, including information about the worker and the circumstances surrounding the fatal incident. Some of the elements collected include the following:

    • Case circumstances
      • Confined space (2011-present)
      • Date of death (1992-present)
      • Date of incident (1992-present)
      • Event or exposure (1992-present)
      • Location type (farm, street, warehouse, etc.) (1992-present)
      • Narrative of how incident occurred (1992-present)
      • Nature of injury (1992-present)
      • Part of body affected by injury (1992-present)
      • Primary source of injury (1992-present)
      • Secondary source of injury (1992-present)
      • State of injury/death (1992-present)
      • Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of injury (2001-present)
      • Time of incident (month, day of week, time of day) (1992-present)
      • Time workday began (1992-present)
      • Worker activity (driving a vehicle, tending a store, etc.) (1992-present)
    • Worker characteristics
      • Age (1992-present)
      • Country of birthplace (2001-present)
      • Gender (1992-present)
      • Race or ethnic origin (1992-present)
    • Employment information
      • Employee status (wage and salary, self-employed, family business) (1992-present)
      • Industry of contracting entity (if any) (2011-present)
      • Industry of employer (1992-present)
      • Occupation (1992-present)
      • Ownership (private sector or state, local, or federal government) (1992-present)

    Injury, illness, and fatality common classifications

    BLS publishes statistics on nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses from SOII and fatal workplace injuries from CFOI. Most of these data can be located at the IIF homepage. SOII and CFOI share several systems to classify industry, occupation, case circumstances, and worker characteristics. Changes among these systems over the past several years have affected SOII (both estimates by industry and by case circumstances and worker characteristics) and CFOI outputs, as described below. More information on these classifications and how they have affected the data series can be found in the online notice, the presentation section and the history section.

    BLS uses Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) and Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) codes for both SOII and CFOI. BLS began using machine learning to automatically assign SOC codes to a portion of SOII cases starting with reference year 2014 data. For reference year 2015, BLS further expanded autocoding to include some OIICS codes. Currently, the autocoder assigns OIICS codes for nature, part, event, source, and secondary source. These automated techniques result in classification accuracies similar to those achieved by staff.⁠ BLS state and regional staff remain responsible for assigning many codes not yet handled by the autocoder, and review and validate all automatically assigned codes. The CFOI is still manually coded by state, regional, and national office employees. More information on automated coding page is available.

    Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS)

    BLS developed OIICS to provide a consistent set of classifications of the circumstances of the characteristics associated with workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. OIICS is used to classify the circumstances of each injury, illness, and fatality case. BLS developed the original OIICS structure with input from data users and states participating in the BLS Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities (IIF) federal/state cooperative programs. The original system was released in December 1992 and approved for use as the American National Standard for Information Management for Occupational Safety and Health in 1995 (ANSI Z16.2—1995). In September 2007, BLS updated OIICS classifications to incorporate various interpretations, improvements, and corrections.

    The OIICS revision in September 2010 was the first major revision since this classification system was first developed in 1992. BLS implemented a revised OIICS structure based on input from many stakeholders. In February 2008, BLS issued a Federal Register Notice requesting suggestions for proposed changes to OIICS. In addition, BLS sent out numerous letters and e-mails to stakeholders who use the OIICS to classify injury and illness data. In April 2010, BLS issued a draft of the revised OIICS 2.0 manual to interested parties requesting their comments. The team evaluated the comments received, made revisions, and issued the completed OIICS 2.01 manual in September 2010. Due to substantial differences between OIICS 2.01 and the original OIICS structure, which was used from 1992 to 2010, BLS advises against making comparisons of the case characteristics from 2011 forward with case characteristics of prior years. BLS is working on OIICS 3, which it plans to deploy for reference year 2023 data. More information can be found at the OIICS homepage. More information on the changes and process involved in updating the OIICS structure can be found in the article “Updated BLS Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System” and information on using OIICS as a safety and management tool can be found in the article “Using the BLS Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System as a Safety and Health Management Tool.”

    SOII and CFOI use five classifications to describe each incident that led to a serious nonfatal injury or illness or a fatal injury:

    • Nature of injury or illness—the characteristics of the disabling injury or illness, such as cuts and lacerations, fractures, sprains and strains, or electrocution
    • Part of body affected—the part of body directly linked to the nature of injury or illness cited, such as finger, arm, back, or body systems
    • Event or exposure—the manner in which the injury or illness was produced or inflicted, such as caught in running equipment; slips, trips, or falls; overexertion; or contact with electric current
    • Primary source—the object, substance, exposure, or bodily motion that was responsible for producing or inflicting the disabling condition, such as machinery, patient, or electrical wiring
    • Secondary source—the object, substance, or person, if any, that generated the source of injury or illness or that contributed to the event or exposure, such as ice or water that contributed to a fall

    Exhibit 2 shows how a work-related injury is classified and how CFOI may use OIICS codes to describe an injury incident.

    Exhibit 2. Five classifications used to describe an a serious nonfatal work injury or illness or fatal injury and OccupationalInjury and Illness Classification System (OIIC) codes. A truck driver was driving his semi eastbound on an interstate.


    • Nature of injury or illness: 1850 Intracranial injuries and injuries to internal organs
    • Part of body: 8300 Head and trunk
    • Event or exposure: 2622 Vehicle struck object or animal on side of roadway
    • Primary source: 8421 Semi, tractor-trailer, tanker truck
    • Secondary source: 5871 Trees. Rule 3.11 explains what to do when the vehicle collides with multiple objects: the object that produced the most severe impact should be coded as secondary source in these types of instances. Here, the narrative states that the truck traveled through a guardrail and fence before colliding with a tree. From that, we infer that striking the tree was the most severe impact.
    • Note: This case is still considered a roadway incident even though the object that was struck was on the side of the road.


    From 1992 to 2002, SOII and CFOI used the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system to define industry. The SIC system served as the foundation for SOII and CFOI statistics since the inception of each program—1972 and 1992, respectively, and was revised numerous times during its life cycle (most recently in 1987) to account for changes in the composition of the U.S. economy.

    The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was adopted to define industry beginning with the 2003 reference year. Because of the substantial differences between NAICS and the SIC system, the results by industry in 2003 constitute a break in the series. NAICS 2017 was adopted to define industry starting with the 2019 reference year. NAICS 2012 was used to define industry for reference years 2014–18; NAICS 2007 was used to define industry for reference years 2009–13; and NAICS 2002 was used to define industry for reference years 2003–08. Comparisons of estimates using NAICS 2017 to previous years under prior NAICS coding structures should be made with caution. Users are also advised against making comparisons between industry data for 2003 forward and the industry data for previous years. Note that the change from NAICS 2007 to NAICS 2012 resulted in a break in the series among industry-level estimates from SOII; however, no series break resulted for the CFOI data. More details on the current NAICS classification as it is used in the IIF programs are below. A timeline with the details of which coding structures are used for which year can be found in the history section.

    North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

    Despite periodic updates to the SIC system, increasing criticism led to the development of a new, more comprehensive system that reflects more recent and rapid economic changes. Many industrial changes were not accounted for under the SIC system, such as recent developments in information services, new forms of healthcare provision, expansion of the services sector, and high-tech manufacturing.

    NAICS was developed in cooperation between the United States, Canada, and Mexico to replace the SIC system, and it was one of the most profound changes for statistical programs focused on measuring economic activities. NAICS uses a process-oriented conceptual framework to group establishments into industries according to the activity in which they are primarily engaged. Establishments using similar raw material inputs, similar capital equipment, and similar labor are classified in the same industry. In other words, establishments that do similar things in similar ways are classified together.

    NAICS provides the means to ensure that SOII and CFOI statistics accurately reflect changes in a dynamic U.S. economy. The downside of this change is that these improved statistics resulted in time series breaks due to the significant differences between SIC and NAICS. Every sector of the economy was restructured and redefined under NAICS. A new information sector combined communications, publishing, motion picture and sound recording, and online services, recognizing our information-based economy. NAICS restructured the manufacturing sector to recognize new high-tech industries. A new subsector was devoted to computers and electronics, including reproduction of software. Retail trade was redefined. In addition, eating and drinking places were transferred to a new accommodation and food services sector. The difference between the retail trade and wholesale trade sectors is now based on how each store conducts business. For example, many computer stores were reclassified from wholesale to retail. Nine new service sectors and 250 new service-providing industries were recognized with the adoption of NAICS 2002.

    NAICS uses a 6-digit hierarchical coding system to classify economic activities into 20 industry sectors—4 sectors are mainly goods-producing sectors and 16 are entirely service-providing sectors. The 6-digit hierarchical structure of NAICS 2017 allowed for the identification of 1,057 industries. NAICS is revised on a 5-year cycle to reflect changes in the economy, resulting in new standards for 2007, 2012, and 2017. These changes were incorporated into SOII and CFOI industry data 2 years later, for 2009, 2014, and 2019, respectively. These changes resulted in a series break for SOII industry data from 2013 to 2014, and footnotes should be consulted to check for incompatibility in other cases. NAICS 2017 changes were incorporated into SOII and CFOI in 2019. For additional information regarding differences between NAICS 2002, NAICS 2007, NAICS 2012, and NAICS 2017 visit the U.S. Census Bureau NAICS web page. See the presentation section for more information on the series.

    Data elements in CFOI are coded to the most detailed level possible based on the information available for that case. Due to a lack of detail in source documents for some cases, a data element may not be coded to the most detailed level and is coded at a higher level. These cases are included in aggregate tabulations only and are not displayed separately. As a result, detailed tabulations may not sum to total.


    From 1992 to 2002, the program used the U.S. Census Bureau (BOC) occupational classification system. Beginning with the 2003 reference year, SOII and CFOI began using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system to define occupations. Due to the substantial differences between the SOC and BOC systems, the results by occupation in 2003 constitute a break in series. Users are advised against making comparisons between occupation data in 2003 forward and the occupation data for previous years. More information on BOC can be found on the Census website. More information on SOC can be found on the SOC homepage. SOII and CFOI used the 2000 SOC to classify occupation data for years 2003 to 2010, the 2010 SOC for years 2011 to 2018, and uses the 2018 SOC for years 2019 forward. More details on the current SOC classification as it is used in the IIF programs are below.

    Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)

    Beginning with the 2019 reference year, CFOI and SOII began using the 2018 SOC system for coding occupations. The SOC 2010 system was used for reference years 2011 through 2018. Before 2011, the 2000 SOC for occupations was used. Comparisons of estimates using SOC 2018 to previous years under prior SOC coding structures should be made with caution. The 2018SOC system classifies workers at four levels of aggregation:

    • Major group
    • Minor group
    • Broad occupation
    • Detailed occupation

    Occupations with similar skills or work activities are grouped at each of the four levels of hierarchy to facilitate comparisons. For example, life, physical, and social science occupations (19-0000) is divided into five minor groups: life scientists (19-1000); physical scientists (19-2000); social scientists and related workers (19-3000); and life, physical, and social science technicians (19-4000); and occupational health and safety specialists and technicians (19-5000). Life scientists contains broad occupations such as agriculture and food scientists (19-1010), and biological scientists (19-1020). The broad occupation biological scientists includes detailed occupations such as biochemists and biophysicists (19-1021) and microbiologists (19-1022).

    Each item in the hierarchy is designated by a six-digit code. The first two digits of the SOC code represent the major group, the third digit represents the minor group, the fourth and fifth digits represent the broad occupation, and the detailed occupation is represented by the sixth digit. Major group codes end with 0000 (e.g., 33-0000, protective service occupations), minor groups end with 000 (e.g., 33-2000, firefighting and prevention), and broad occupations end with 0 (e.g., 33-2020, fire inspectors). (The zeros are not always printed.) All residuals ("other," "miscellaneous," or "all other"), whether at the detailed or broad occupation or minor group level, contain a 9 at the level of the residual. Detailed residual occupations end in 9 (e.g., 33-9099, protective service workers, all other), broad occupations that are minor group residuals end in 90 (e.g., 33-9090, miscellaneous protective service workers), and minor groups that are major group residuals end in 9000 (e.g., 33-9000, other protective service workers):

    33-0000 protective service occupations

                33-9000 other protective service workers

                            33-9090 miscellaneous protective service workers

                                        33-9099 protective service workers, all other

    Race and ethnicity standards

    Both CFOI and the component of SOII capturing case circumstances and worker characteristics were implemented in 1992, following recommendations of a National Academies of Science review highlighting the need to capture detailed case circumstances and worker characteristics for fatal and nonfatal workplace incidents, respectively. At their inception, each of these series used separate methods to categorize the race or ethnicity of injured or ill workers. For example, SOII categorized Hispanics separately, whereas CFOI categorized Hispanics by race (e.g., Black or White) and also provided a total count of Hispanics. The remaining race and ethnicity categories for both series were:

    • White
    • Black
    • Asian or Pacific Islander
    • American Indian or Native Alaskan

    The classification of workers by race and ethnicity for CFOI and SOII is based on the 1997 Standards for Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity as defined by the Office of Management and Budget.

    In 1999, CFOI amended race categories so that Hispanics no longer counted as a race, but solely as an ethnicity. Each decedent in CFOI is counted only once in the race and ethnicity categories. Three additional changes were also incorporated to race and ethnicity categories:

    • Asian became a separate category
    • Native Hawaiian was combined with Pacific Islander to form a new category, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
    • Multirace was added

    CFOI specific variables

    The CFOI definitions page contains additional information about the variables published by CFOI.

    Worker activity in CFOI

    Describes the activity engaged in by the worker at the time of the fatal injury. More information on worker activity and the coding structure can be found in the online manual.

    Location in CFOI

    Indicates the locale, such as, farm, residence, or road construction, where the incident or exposure occurred at the time of the fatal injury. More information on location and the coding structure can be found in the online manual.

    Contracted workers in CFOI

    This variable indicates whether the decedent was a contracted worker at the time of the incident and began being collected in 2011. In CFOI, a contracted worker is a worker employed by one firm but working at the behest of another firm that exercises overall responsibility for the operations at the site where the decedent was killed. Some additional rules for classifying contracted workers in CFOI:

    A business-to-business relationship to establish contracted worker status must exist. For example, a Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) repairman working at a private residence is not considered a contracted worker. That same HVAC repairman working at a restaurant is considered to be a contracted worker since a business-to-business relationship is present.

    Incidents that occur at sites where a potential contracting firm does not exercise overall responsibility for the site, such as a public roadway, are not included as contracted workers with certain exceptions.

    Suicides and other incidents that are initiated intentionally by the decedent are not included as contracted workers.

    Contracted worker status can be inferred from available case data if not explicitly stated. If, for example, a security guard employed directly by a security firm is killed while working at a bar, the security guard must have been contracted by the bar or else he or she would not have been present.

    Note that this definition of a contracted worker is unique to CFOI and likely differs from how contracted workers (sometimes called contractors) are defined elsewhere. Users should be cautious when comparing CFOI data on contracted workers to other data sources because of these definitional differences.

    More information on contracted workers can be found in the article "Fatal occupational injuries involving contractors, 2011".

    Contracted worker industry

    This variable indicates the industry of the firm contracting the decedent, provided the decedent was working as a contracted worker at the time of the incident and began being collected in 2011.

    Contracted worker ownership

    This variable indicates the ownership (private, federal, state, local, foreign, or other government) of the firm contracting the decedent provided the decedent was working as a contracted worker at the time of the incident and began being collected in 2011.

    Birthplace in CFOI

    This variable indicates the country of birth of the decedent and began being published in 2001. A list of the countries and regions can be found in the definitions page.

    Metropolitan statistical area in CFOI

    Beginning in 1999, CFOI began publishing Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) information based on definitions from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). For reference years 1999 to 2002, CFOI used the MSA definitions in OMB Bulletin Number 99-04, June 1999. For reference years 2003 to 2010, CFOI used the MSA definitions in OMB Bulletin Number 05-02, February 2005. For reference years 2011 to 2013, CFOI used the MSA definitions in OMB Bulletin Number 10-02, December 2009. For reference years 2014 to 2018, CFOI used the MSA definitions in OMB Bulletin Number 13-01, February 2013. For reference year 2019 forward, CFOI uses the MSA definitions in OMB Bulletin Number 18-04, September 2018. For more information on the definitions used in previous years, please see the CFOI definitions page and the OMB MSA page.

    Multiple fatality incidents

    CFOI captures whether the worker was killed in an incident where at least one other worker was killed, a multiple-fatality incident, or in an incident where no other worker was killed, a single-fatality incident. Incident type was first collected in 1993. This is done using a linked code and only links decedents in the same reference year. If, for example, there was an explosion at a plant and one worker died in December and another worker was hospitalized but did not die until January, these two cases would not be linked, as the deaths crossed the calendar year.

    Confined space

    CFOI bases its definition of confined space on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) definition of a confined space. OSHA defines a confined space as a space that meets the following three criteria: 1) is large enough that an employee can enter and perform work, 2) has limited or restricted means for entry and exit, and 3) is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Examples include: tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, pits, crawl spaces, sewers, etc. See OSHA 1910.146 (b), for more information.

    Independent worker

    This variable identifies independent workers as defined by CFOI and began being collected in 2016. Independent workers are workers whose jobs are usually short in duration and involve a discrete task. Independent workers must find their own work, and both the independent worker and prospective client must agree to the terms of the job. Future work is not guaranteed for independent workers based on their past performance. More information on independent workers can be found in this article:

    See below for a table showing the years in which data elements in CFOI are available. Not all data elements are complete, and some are available only for research through microdata access.

    Exhibit 3.
    Data element Years available



    Alcohol/Drug (Y/N/U) (research only)




    Confined space incident (research only)




    Contractor industry


    Contractor ownership


    Day of week of incident


    Disaster (research only)


    Educational attainment (research only)


    Employee status


    Establishment size class (research only)


    Event or exposure


    Event or exposure 2011




    Hispanic or Latino origin


    Impairment (research only)


    Independent worker (research only)






    Latency (research only)


    Link code (research only)




    Medical complication (research only)


    Month of incident




    Nature 2011








    Part of body


    Part of body 2011


    Primary source


    Primary source 2011




    Seat belt usage (research only)


    Secondary source


    Secondary source 2011


    State of employment (research only)


    State of residence (research only)


    Time workday began (research only)


    Time of incident


    Union status (research only)


    Veteran status (research only)


    Worker activity


    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Last Modified Date: December 08, 2020