Bureau of Labor Statistics releases new workplace injury data

2021 saw workplace injuries increase while respiratory illness rates fall.

According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of reported workplace injuries in the U.S. private sector increased in 2021. Still, a drop in respiratory illness rates brought down the combined number of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses.

Workers in the private sector experienced an estimated 2.2 million nonfatal injuries in 2021 – up from 2.1 million the previous year. The rate of nonfatal injuries increased to 2.3 per 100 full-time equivalent workers from 2.2 in 2020.

However, employers reported 365,200 nonfatal illnesses in 2021 – down from 544,600 in 2020. Likewise, recorded respiratory infections declined to 269,600 from 428,700 in 2020. By comparison, that total was 10,800 in 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic. BLS states that the 2021 data includes cases of COVID-19 “when a worker was infected as a result of performing their work-related duties and met other recordkeeping criteria.”

Overall, private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021

– a 1.8% decrease from the year before. The rate of total recordable cases remained unchanged, at 2.7 per 100 FTEs.

BLS obtained the agency’s Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses estimates.

Other 2021 data highlights:

  • The transportation and warehousing industry and the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry had the highest rate of nonfatal injuries, each at 4.3 per 100 full-time workers.
  • Health care and social assistance had the highest rate of workplace illnesses, at 115.9 per 10,000 full-time workers. By comparison, the industries with the highest rates were retail trade (46.2) and manufacturing (42.8).