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Which Workplaces Most Commonly Experience Injuries?

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Falling victim to an injury at work is often a confusing and stressful time. Besides your injuries, you also may have worries associated with your accident, and retrieving the correct and reliable information can prove difficult.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your employer protects you and informs you about health and safety risks associated with your job. Although there is no requirement that employers offer paid sick leave to their employees, they must allow staff unpaid time off for medical leave.

Here at Schmidt & Clark, LLP we have therefore decided to explore which are the workplaces that most commonly experience injuries according to sector and occupation.

The information was retrieved from the latest data taken from the 2020 U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics employer-reported workplace injuries and illnesses news release

The General Figures


The Bureau of Labor found that private industry employers reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020, which is down from 2.8 million in 2019 and represents a decrease of 5.7%.

The decline in injury and illness cases was due to a drop in injury cases, with private industry employers reporting 2.1 million nonfatal injuries in 2020, down from 2.7 million in 2019. At the same time, the total reported illness cases more than quadrupled to 544,600 cases, up from 127,200 in 2019. This rise was driven by a nearly 4,000% increase in employer-reported respiratory illness cases in 2020 at 428,700, up from 10,800 in 2019.

There were over 1.2 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused a private industry worker to miss at least one day of work in 2020, 32.4% higher than in 2019. Of these cases, 33.2% (390,020 cases) were categorized as other diseases due to viruses not elsewhere classified, which includes reported COVID-19 related illnesses. 

By Sector

The total injury and illness cases decreased or remained the same in all private industry sectors, except for health care and social assistance, which increased 40.1% in 2020. The health care and social assistance sector had 806,200 private industry injury and illness cases in 2020, over half (447,890) of which resulted in at least one day away from work.

In 2019, this sector had 575,200 private industry cases, with 151,410 resulting in at least one day away from work. 

By Occupation

Ten occupations accounted for 38.3% of all private industry cases involving days away from work (DAFW) in 2020. Of these, nursing assistants had the highest number of DAFW cases with 96,480, an increase of 68,890 cases (249.7%) from 2019. 

In 2020, DAFW cases for registered nurses increased by 58,590 cases (290.8%) to 78,740 cases. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had 43,500 DAFW cases in 2020, a decrease of 4,490 cases (9.4%). 

DAFW cases for laborers and freight, stock, and material movers were essentially unchanged in 2020. 

Other occupations which ranked highly were maintenance and repair workers, stockers and order fillers, and retail salespersons.

Number, Incidence Rates, and Median Days for Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Dafw Selected Occupations, Private Industry, 2019-20:

Occupation 2019  2020
Number  Rate Median  DAFW Number  Rate Median  DAFW
Nursing assistants  27,590  283.5  96,480  1,023.8  12
Registered nurses  20,150  102.1  78,740  390.6  13
Laborers and freight, stock and material movers, hand  64,160  275.5  12  64,930  289.8  14
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers  47,990  280.0  19  43,500  259.7  23
Stockers and order fillers  27,390  176.3  10  31,280  176.2  13
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses  5,350  109.5  29,230  608.4  12
Retail salespersons  24,870  80.2  28,110  106.6  11
Personal care aides  14,960 –  27,750 –  12
Production workers, all other  25,110 –  26,850 –  10
Maintenance and repair workers, general  21,490  204.6  12  23,400  241.9  10

Workplace Fatalities

Workplace Fatalities

Even more distressing than a workplace injury is a workplace fatality, which can come as a shock to family, friends, colleagues and the employer in question. Following such an incident, any hazardous elements considered an immediate danger to life and health should be removed. 

The rest of the area must then be secured for investigation but only after receiving authorization from the authorities. This is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all other employees and to ensure no further tragic incidents occur.

Employers are advised to be sensitive to what their employees might need at the time, consider their physical and emotional wellbeing, and recognize that grief is not a linear process and affects everyone differently.

Here, we go on to explore the workplaces that most commonly experience fatalities, according to types of incident, sector, occupation, state, and age range.

The General Figures

In total, it was reported that there were 4764 workplace fatalities in the United States in 2020, which is a 10.7% decrease from 2019, in which there were 5,333 fatalities. This drop could potentially be due to people being out of work but the news release does state that the cases have been continuously dropping since 2013. 

Additionally, 4349 cases were in the private sector, which makes up 91.2% of fatalities reported in 2020. 

Out of the 4764 fatalities reported, 3864 of them were attributed to salaried employees (which is 81%), the remaining 900 fatalities were attributed to self-employed workers. 

By Incidents

Most Fatalities Were Categorized into Six ‘Events’ with the Totals as Follows:

Event No. of Fatalities Most Popular ‘Sub Event’  No. of Fatalities
Transportation Incidents 1778 Roadway Incidents involving Motorized Land Vehicle 1038
Exposure to harmful substances and environments 805 Exposure to other harmful substances (E.g - unintentional overdose, inhalation, and ingestion of harmful substance) 448
Contact with object and equipment  716 Struck by objects and equipment  468
Violence and other injuries by persons or animals 705 Intentional Injury By Person (This includes homicides and suicides) 651
Falls, Slips and Trips 672 Falls to lower level 645
Fires and Explosions 71 Explosions 40

Most fatalities were categorized under ‘Transportation Incidents’, with the majority being ‘Roadway Incidents Involving Motorized Land Vehicles’, which includes road collisions with other vehicles and collisions with other objects. 

‘Exposure to harmful substances and environments’ saw the second-highest number of fatalities, with ‘exposure to other harmful substances, which includes drugs and alcohol,  being attributed to 448 deaths. 

Under, ‘Violence and other injuries by persons or animals’ many fatalities were caused by ‘intentional injury by person’, this includes homicides and suicides, 392 workplace fatalities were as a result of homicide in 2020. 

By Sector

The Top Ten Sectors for Workplace Fatalities Were:

Sector  No. of Fatalities Fatal Work Injury Rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) 
Construction 1008 10.2
Transportation and Warehousing 805 13.4
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 511 21.5
Government 415 1.8
Manufacturing 340 2.3
Retail Trade 275 2
Leisure and Hospitality 219 2.5
Other Services (excluding Public Admin) 188 3.3
Wholesale Trade 155 4.6
Educational and Health Services 145 0.7

Construction was the industry that saw the highest number of fatalities at 1008, this accounts for 21% of the total fatalities reported in 2020. However, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing have the highest injury rate, with 21.5 fatalities for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. 

Within construction, 368 are classified as ‘Falls, Slips and Trips’, this accounts for 37% of the fatalities recorded under the sector. 

The Transportation and Warehousing industry experienced 805 fatalities, with 575 being classed as ‘Transportation Incidents’, this is 57% of the total fatalities under the industry. 

Like Transportation and Warehousing, the highest number of fatalities within the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing industry was attributed to ‘Transportation Incidents’, with 247 fatalities out of the total 511 reported, which is 48%. 

By Occupation

The Data Reports That These Are the Occupations with the Highest Fatality Rate in 2020:

Sector  Fatal Work Injury Rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers)  No. of Fatalities
Fishing and Hunting Workers 132.1 42
Logging Workers 91.7 42
Roofers 47.0 88
Helpers and Construction Trades  43.3 19
Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers 34.2 50
Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors 33.1 30
Structural Iron and Steel Workers 32.5 16
Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers 25.8 887
Underground Mining Machine Operators 21.6 10
Farmers, Ranchers and Other Agricultural Managers 20.9 207

Despite Drivers/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers experiencing 887 fatalities within the occupation, which accounts for 19% of the total fatalities reported in 2020. Fishing and Hunting workers had an injury rate of 132.1 workers being fatally injured per 100,000. 

Logging Workers had the second-highest rate, with 91.2 per 100,000 workers. Both Fishing and Hunting and Logging had 42 fatalities attributed to the occupation each. 

By State

The Top Ten States Reported with the Highest Number of Work Fatalities in 2020 Were the Following:

State Fatal work injuries, 2020
Texas 469
California 463
Florida 275
New York 223
Georgia 193
North Carolina 189
Indiana 158
Pennsylvania 148
Tennessee 142
Illinois 135
Michigan 131

Texas had 469 fatalities in 2020, which is approximately 10% of the total fatalities recorded and California was second-highest, with 463 fatalities recorded. Combined, Texas and California accounted for 19.5% of all workplace fatalities in 2020. 

The Top 10 States Reported with the Lowest Number of Work Fatalities in 2020 Were the Following:

State Fatal work injuries, 2020
Rhode Island 5
Delaware 7
Vermont 8
District of Columbia 13
New Hampshire 14
Hawaii 16
Maine 20
North Dakota 26
Connecticut 29
Montana 29
Alaska 31

Rhode Island only saw 5 workplace fatalities reported in 2020, which is 0.1% of total fatalities in 2020, followed by the State of Delaware at 7 and Vermont at 8 fatal injuries in 2020.

By Age

The Data Also Reported the Numbers of Fatalities in 2020 by Age Which Were as Follows:

Age Range Fatalities
Under 16 Years 14
16 to 17 Years 12
18 to 19 Years 66
20 to 24 Years 260
25 to 34 Years 833
35 to 44 Years 898
45 to 54 Years 954
55 to 64 1,051
65 Years and Over 676

Ages 55 to 64 saw the highest number of workplace fatalities at 1052, which is 22% of the total number reported. 

Younger age demographics were least at risk, with only 14 fatalities being attributed to those 16 and under, and 12 to those between the ages of 16 and 17. 

Final Thoughts

The figures clearly demonstrate that much more needs to be done to ensure the safety of workers in 2022 and beyond.

The labor force is continually growing in the United States, therefore we need to make sure employers are doing their job properly so that workers can safely do theirs. 

We must also ensure that every worker is aware of their rights and is empowered to speak up about concerns in their workplace. 

If you require legal aid concerning an injury at work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you have been physically injured or financially harmed through no fault of your own, then our team of attorneys and legal assistants will take on even the largest corporations. 

We are one of the leading and most highly recognized law firms in the USA, specializing in representing individual plaintiffs and their families.