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Reflecting on work injuries, illnesses, and fatalities for Workers' Memorial Day

April 28, 2021

April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day, a day to commemorate people who died or were injured on the job. In 2019, 5,333 workers suffered fatal injuries in the United States, and 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers.

For nonfatal injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work, overexertion and bodily reaction resulted in 275,590 cases. That was 31.0 percent of the 2019 total of 888,220 cases. Falls, slips, and trips accounted for 27.5 percent of cases. Contact with objects and equipment accounted for 25.8 percent of cases.

Number of nonfatal work injuries and illnesses involving days away from work by event or exposure, private industry, 2019
Event or exposure Number of cases

Overexertion and bodily reaction

275,590

Falls, slips, trips

244,000

Contact with objects and equipment

229,410

Transportation incidents

49,430

Violence and other injuries by persons or animals

44,480

Exposure to harmful substances or environments

36,840

All other events or exposures

6,760

Fires and explosions

1,700

Note: Because of rounding and the exclusion of responses that cannot be classified, estimates may not sum to the totals.

Fatal work injuries in 2019 increased 1.6 percent from the 2018 total. The 2019 total was the highest annual count since 2007. Fatal injuries resulting from falls, slips, and trips experienced the largest increase from 2018, with 89 more cases reported in 2019. The largest decrease in fatal injuries in 2019 was from contact with objects and equipment, with 54 fewer cases than in 2018.

Transportation incidents continued to be the most frequent type of fatal event, with 2,122 cases in 2019. Roadway incidents involving a motorized land vehicle remained the most common type of fatal transportation incident, with 1,270 cases reported in 2019. That was 59.8 percent of fatal transportation incidents.

Fatal transportation incidents by type, all United States, 2018 and 2019
Event or exposure 2018 2019

Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle

1,276 1,270

Pedestrian vehicular incident

325 341

Nonroadway incident involving motorized land vehicles

225 236

Aircraft incidents

133 152

Water vehicle incidents

58 63

All other transportation incidents

63 60

These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. For more information, see “Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses — 2019” and “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2019.” We also have more charts on fatal work injuries.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Reflecting on work injuries, illnesses, and fatalities for Workers' Memorial Day at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/reflecting-on-work-injuries-illnesses-and-fatalities-for-workers-memorial-day.htm (visited May 12, 2021).

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