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Deaths from unintentional overdoses in the workplace continued to rise in 2019

July 29, 2021

There were 313 workplace deaths from unintentional overdoses in 2019. Unintentional overdose deaths in the workplace increased on average 24 percent each year from 2011 to 2018 but rose 2.6 percent in 2019. The number of cases in 2019 was the highest recorded since data began in 2011. Each annual total from 2013 to 2019 has been a new high.

Number of fatal work injuries caused by unintentional overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol, 2011–19
Year Number of fatal injuries Annual percent change

2011

73 -

2012

65 -11.0%

2013

82 26.2%

2014

114 39.0%

2015

165 44.7%

2016

217 31.5%

2017

272 25.3%

2018

305 12.1%

2019

313 2.6%

While the national percentage increase of unintentional fatal overdoses in 2019 was below the recent trend, several states still experienced large percentage changes in 2019.

States with notable percent changes in unintentional overdose fatalities from 2018 to 2019
State 2018 Count 2019 Count Percent Change

Georgia

6 14 133.0%

California

23 47 104.0%

Texas

7 12 71.0%

West Virginia

7 10 43.0%

Washington

3 4 33.0%

Total United States

305 313 2.6%

New Jersey

9 8 -11.0%

Indiana

10 8 -20.0%

North Carolina

10 8 -20.0%

Ohio

15 12 -20.0%

Pennsylvania

16 12 -25.0%

Florida

21 15 -29.0%

Massachusetts

23 14 -39.0%

Georgia had the largest percent increase in unintentional overdoses, from 2018 to 2019, at 133 percent. California had a 104 percent increase during the same period. Massachusetts had the largest percent decrease in unintentional overdoses with a decrease of 39 percent.

Of the 313 fatal unintentional overdoses in 2019, 54.6 percent (171 fatal injuries) involved workers ages 25 to 44. Another 38.3 percent (120 fatal injuries) involved workers ages 45 to 64.

These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities program. To learn more, see “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2019” and more charts. We also have more data on fatal work injuries from unintentional overdose.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Deaths from unintentional overdoses in the workplace continued to rise in 2019 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/deaths-from-unintentional-overdoses-in-the-workplace-continued-to-rise-in-2019.htm (visited September 17, 2021).

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