The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its 2020 national census of fatal occupational injuries. The census, which represents the most recent figures, discusses key findings related to fatal occupational injuries that took place in 2020. As a whole, fatal injuries are down 10.7% from 2019. There were 4,764 total fatal work injuries in 2020. In the year prior, there were 5,333 fatal injuries.

This article provides a breakdown of the key details from the BLS census.

Key Findings

The census found that the total number of fatal injuries in 2020 reached its lowest point since 2013. Nevertheless, fatal injuries remain a pressing concern. In fact, a worker died every 111 minutes from an occupational injury during 2020.

Transportation-related incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event in 2020, causing 1,778 fatal injuries and accounting for over one-third (37.3%) of all work-related fatalities.

Workplace suicides decreased 15.6% between 2019 and 2020, down from 307 incidents to 259. This total represents the lowest number of occupational suicides since 2015.

Worker Characteristics

Women represented 16.3% of workplace homicides in 2020. Yet, this demographic made up just 8.1% of overall occupational fatalities during the same time period.

In addition, 954 occupational fatalities occurred among workers between the ages of 45 and 54 in 2020, which was the lowest count for this age group since 1992.

Fatal Events or Exposures

Fatal transportation incidents decreased from 2,122 events in 2019 to 1,778 in 2020. Workplace fatalities due to violence and other injuries by people or animals decreased from 841 fatalities in 2019 to 705 in 2020, representing a 16.2% reduction. The largest contributor to this category, intentional injuries by people, decreased by 14.5% to 651 incidents during 2020.

Exposure to harmful substances or environments led to 672 occupational fatalities in 2020, which is the highest number since 2011. This category of fatality also includes unintentional overdoses from the nonmedical use of drugs. These instances accounted for 57.7% of total fatalities within the category, which is up from 48.8% in 2019.


Material moving, transportation, construction and extracting occupations made up nearly half (47.4%) of all fatal occupational injuries.

Fatalities within the sales and office administration support occupations decreased by 19% from 2019 to 2020. Fatal injuries in health care support occupations increased by 15.8% to 44 fatalities, up from 38 in 2019.

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