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December 27, 2023
BLS: Worker fatalities increased 5.7% in 2022

Fatal work-related injuries increased by 5.7% in 2022, according to the latest figures released December 19 by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Fatal work injuries increased from 5,190 in 2021 to 5,486 in 2022.

The national fatal work injury rate was 3.7 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers—up from 3.6 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2021, according to the BLS’s 2022 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). While the all-worker fatal injury rate was 3.7, the fatality rates for African-American and Hispanic workers were higher. The fatal injury rate for black or African-American workers rose from 4.0 to 4.2 and rose from 4.5 to 4.6 per 100,000 FTE workers for Hispanic or Latino workers, according to the BLS.

“Today’s announcement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of a 5.7 percent increase in fatal occupational injuries is a sobering reminder of the important work we must do, especially for Black and Hispanic workers who saw the largest increase in workplace fatalities,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in an agency statement.

“In 2022, 5,486 workers in the U.S. lost their lives,” noted OSHA’s chief. “This equates to one worker death every 96 minutes, with deaths the highest among transportation and construction workers.”

According to the BLS, workers in transportation and material-moving occupations experienced 1,620 fatal work injuries in 2022, representing the occupational group with the most fatalities. The next highest was construction and extraction workers, with 1,056 fatalities, an 11.0% increase from 2021. However, farming, fishing, and forestry occupations had the highest fatality rate­ of all occupational groups last year—23.5 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers, which is up from 20.0 in 2021.

Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event, according to the BLS, accounting for 37.7% of all occupational fatalities.

Fatalities due to workplace violence also rose, according to the BLS. Fatal work injuries due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased 11.6%, from 761 in 2021 to 849 in 2022. Homicides accounted for 61.7% of these fatalities, with 524 deaths, an 8.9% increase from 2021.

Suicides increased 13.1% to 267 fatalities in 2022 following consecutive decreases in both 2020 and 2021.

Unintentional overdoses increased 13.1% to an all-time high of 525 fatalities in 2022—up from 464 in 2021, continuing a trend of annual increases since 2012. This spring, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the over-the-counter (OTC) use of Narcan, a 4-milligram (mg) naloxone hydrochloride spray, for the treatment of opioid overdoses. Additionally, earlier this fall, the National Safety Council (NSC) released a new workplace safety program to help employers combat the rise in workplace drug overdoses.

Work-related fatalities due to falls, slips, and trips increased 1.8% in 2022, resulting in 865 fatalities, up from 850 in 2021. Most fatalities in this category (80.9%) were due to falls to lower levels, which had 700 fatalities in 2022. This past spring, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) of outreach and enforcement to protect workers from falls from height across all industries.

“All workers have a right to do their job without fear of being injured or sickened,” Parker added. “Every worker death has profound impacts on family, friends, co-workers and communities.”

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