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Workplace fatalities up 8.9% in 2021


Workplace fatalities jumped 8.9% in 2021 from the prior year, while the fatal work injury rate increased only minimally during that same period, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The country saw a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries last year, up from 4,764 in 2020.

The fatal work injury rate stood at 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, an increase over the 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 in 2020.

The 3.6 figure represents the highest annual rate of fatal occupational injury since 2016, with the 2019 pre-pandemic rate standing at 3.5 per 100,000.

The BLS said one worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury last year.

The share of Black workers fatally injured on the job reached an all-time high in 2021, increasing from 11.4% of total fatalities in 2020 to 12.6% in 2021.

Black and Hispanic/Latino workers saw fatality rates in 2021 that were higher than the all-worker rate of 3.6.

The most common cause of workplace fatalities was from transportation incidents, although the BLS noted that such incidents were down 6.6% from 2019.

Women in 2021 comprised 8.6% of all workplace fatalities but represented 14.5% of intentional injuries.

Fatalities from workplace violence and other injuries increased 7.9% in 2021 from 2020.

Another key highlight of the report concerned fatalities from exposure to harmful substances, which caused 798 worker deaths in 2021, the highest figure since 2011.

An upside to the report was that suicides on the job continued to trend down, with 236 workplace suicides in 2021 compared to 259 in 2020, representing an 8.9% decrease.