Latest Statistics Reveal Increase In On-the-Job Injuries, Deaths

January 31, 2024 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | News & Media

Latest Statistics Reveal Increase In On-the-Job Injuries, Deaths

For the sixth time in 7 years, workplace deaths in the United States have surpassed 5,000 deaths, according to the latest available statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase of nearly 6% over the previous year’s data.

A total of 5,486 workers died from on-the-job injuries in 2022. Transportation incidents remained the top cause of death, resulting in 2,066 fatalities and accounting for nearly 38% of all fatal work-related injuries. Unintentional overdose deaths increased 13%, to 525 in 2022 from 464 in 2021, continuing a trend of annual increases since 2012, according to data. From 2009 to 2015, work-related fatalities remained below the 5,000 mark, as well as in 2020.

As for injuries, the work injury rate was 3.7 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, up from 3.6 per in 2021, according to data from Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Workers in private industry experienced an estimated 2.8 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses.

Work injuries can affect every aspect of life for workers and their families, and every worker deserves to return home safely at the end of the day,” said Beatriz Trejo, partner and work injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Clark. “Prioritizing safety in the workplace is not just a responsibility, but a moral imperative. More must be done by lawmakers and employers to prevent these fatalities and injuries.”

Among other findings from the latest statistics regarding injuries and deaths at work include:

  • A worker died every 96 minutes in 2022, compared with every 101 minutes the year before.
  • The transportation and material moving sector had the highest number of workplace fatalities (1,620), followed by construction and extraction (1,056).
  • The fatality rates for Black/African American workers (4.2 per 100,000 workers) and Hispanic/Latino workers (4.6) increased from 4.0 and 4.5 in 2021, respectively. Transportation incidents were the most frequent cause of death among these groups.
  • Around 365,000 respiratory illnesses were reported in 2022, representing almost 80% of all workplace illnesses.
  • Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles increased 9% between 2021 and 2022, leading to a series high of 1,369 fatalities.
  • Suicides increased 13% to 267 fatalities in 2022.
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments increased 5.1% in 2022 and led to 839 worker fatalities.
  • Fatalities due to exposure to temperature extremes increased 18.6% in 2022, rising to 51 from 43 in 2021. Fatalities specifically due to environmental heat were 43 in 2022, up from 36 in 2021.
  • Almost a quarter (25%) of fatalities due to homicides occurred while a worker was tending a retail establishment or waiting on customers.
  • Fatalities due to contact with objects and equipment increased 5% from 705 fatalities in 2021 to 738 in 2022. This is the highest count for this event category since 2018. Machinery was the source of 199 fatalities within this category.
  • Work-related fatalities due to falls, slips, and trips increased 2% in 2022, resulting in 865 fatalities, up from 850 in 2021. Most fatalities in this category (81%) were due to falls to lower levels, which had 700 fatalities in 2022. This was a 2.9% increase from 680 fatalities in 2021.

As for occupations, here’s what data showed:

  • With a rate of 14.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers, transportation and material moving occupations had the most fatalities in 2022 (1,620), up from 1,523 in 2021. The increase was due to fatalities to driver/sales workers and truck drivers increasing by 8%, from 1,032 fatalities in 2021 to 1,115 in 2022.
  • Workers in construction and extraction occupations had the second most fatalities (1,056) in 2022 compared to other occupation groups. Falls, slips, or trips were the events precipitating 423 of these fatalities. The fatality rate for this occupation group increased from 12.3 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2021 to 13.0 in 2022.
  • Fatalities among protective service occupations increased 11% in 2022, rising to 335 from 302 in 2021. The rate for this occupational group increased to 10.2 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers in 2022, up from 9.4 in 2021. Homicides (121) and suicides (17) accounted for 41% of these fatalities.
  • The number and rate of fatalities for installation, maintenance, and repair occupations decreased in 2022. The total fatalities decreased to 431 in 2022 from 475 in 2021 and the rate decreased to 8.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers from 9.7 in 2021.
  • Work fatalities among building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers also decreased in 2022 to 352 from 356 in 2021. The 2022 rate was 7.4 and in 2021 it was 7.6.
  • Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations had the highest fatality rate (23.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers) of all occupational groups in 2022, up from 20.0 in 2021.



Here are six broadly applicable worker safety tips that everyone can put to use:

  • Report unsafe work conditions. If you feel comfortable doing so, tell your employer. If you want to remain anonymous, you can file a confidential complaint with Cal/OSHA.
  • If your employer has safety procedures, follow them. Even if you’re skilled and confident, don’t take shortcuts on proper procedures. If your work requires protective gear, use it.
  • Keep walkways, entrances, and exits clear of clutter.
  • Take regular breaks from sedentary work to move around or stretch. Give yourself breaks from repeated motion, too.
  • Learn how to maintain good posture when sitting at a desk for long periods of time.
  • Learn and use proper lifting techniques. If you need to move something heavy, move it with a buddy rather than lifting it on your own.

If you’re an employer looking to embrace your duty to provide a safe workplace, here are five tips to implement:

  • Set up employee safety training programs to ensure that everyone knows how to fulfill their job duties safely.
  • Create an injury prevention program that does more than satisfy your legal responsibility. Spend time on hazard identification and risk assessment and establish workplace safety guidelines.
  • Involve management and employees in creating and administering your safety program. Employees on a factory floor often know more about potential hazards than managers ensconced in their offices.
  • Create an atmosphere in which employees not only feel safe to report potential hazards but are even encouraged to do so.
  • Take action to mitigate hazards as soon as they are discovered.

California’s workers’ compensation laws help protect workers if they become ill or injured on the job. But many people don’t realize the different benefits available to them. Here are five basic benefits available to injured workers.

  • One: Temporary disability benefits are payments made to the injured worker if he or she is unable work during their recovery period.
  • Two: Medical treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury at no cost to the injured worker. This could potentially be a lifetime benefit.
  • Three: Disability payments may be paid on top of wages if the injury affects the worker permanently.
  • Four: Supplemental job displacement vouchers can be used to pay for educational retraining or skill enhancement at state-approved or accredited school if a person is unable to return to work.
  • Five: Death benefits are payments to a spouse and dependents if an employee dies from a work-related injury or illness. This includes burial expenses.


If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at