Work-Related Deaths Rise in 2022, BLS Report Finds

Transportation Incidents Accounted for 37.7% of All Occupational Fatalities
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“There were 2,066 fatal injuries from transportation incidents in 2022, a 4.2% increase from 1,982 in 2021,” BLS stated. (aogreatkim via Getty Images)

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The number of job-related deaths rose 5.7% in 2022 compared with 2021, with workers in broadly defined transportation-related jobs accounting for the largest share of fatalities, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a national occupational fatality census.

“In 2022, 5,486 workers in the U.S. lost their lives. This equates to one worker death every 96 minutes, with deaths the highest among transportation and construction workers,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Labor, in reaction to data contained in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report BLS released in December.

According to the report, workers in transportation and material moving occupations experienced 1,620 fatal work injuries in 2022 and represented the occupational group with the most fatalities. The increase was attributed to an 8% rise in combined fatalities among truck drivers and driver/sales workers to 1,115 in 2022 from 1,032 in 2021. BLS defines its transportation and material moving occupational category with employees who are air transportation workers, motor vehicle operators and material moving workers.

The next highest category was construction and extraction workers with 1,056 fatalities, an 11% increase from 2021.

Another key finding was that transportation incidents accounted for 37.7% of all occupational fatalities and remained the most frequent type of fatal event. “There were 2,066 fatal injuries from transportation incidents in 2022, a 4.2% increase from 1,982 in 2021,” BLS stated.

Transportation incidents in 2022 that resulted in occupational deaths were roadway collisions involving vehicles moving in the opposite direction and vehicles struck by an object or animal on the side of the road, BLS said.

A look at fatal work injury rates per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers among different occupations found a consistent three-year rise for people working in the transportation and material moving sector. For all workers, BLS stated that the overall fatal work injury rate was 3.7 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers, up from 3.6 in 2021.

“With a rate of 14.6 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers, transportation and material moving occupations had the most fatalities in 2022,” BLS noted, “up from 1,523 in 2021.”

The fatal work injury rate for transportation and material moving workers has continued to rise. In 2021, the sector had a fatality work injury rate of 14.4 per 100,000 FTEs for 2021 and 13.1 rate in 2020.

The report also examined fatal occupational injuries tied to events or exposures such as violence/other injuries by people or animals, fire/explosions, contact with objects/equipment, falls/slips/trips and transportation incidents (aircraft, rail, pedestrian, water vehicle and roadway/non-roadway occurrences involving a motor vehicle on land).

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Parker also noted demographic shifts.

“We also saw growth in disparities for workers of color, including Black workers, whose fatality rate increased 12.4%, and Hispanic workers, whose rate grew by 10.4%,” he said, and stressed the importance of businesses making a commitment to safety.

“Every worker death has profound impacts on family, friends, co-workers and communities,” he said. “That is why investing in worker safety and health must be a core value in every workplace across the country. All workers have a right to do their job without fear of being injured or sickened.”

Data has been gathered and published for the census on U.S. fatal occupational injuries since 1992, with modifications since then made on data elements.