American Workplace Injury Statistics

Data from federal research shows how common workplace injuries are, which workers are most at risk, and how much they receive in worker’s comp.

The federal government has created laws guaranteeing workers in the United States the right to a safe work environment. Your employer is legally required to eliminate general health and safety hazards, and promote workplace safety.

However, even when employers take all the appropriate steps to maintain occupational safety, workplace accidents can still occur. On-the-job injuries can cause severe damage and are sometimes fatal.

This article will examine statistics regarding the numbers and types of workplace injuries in the U.S. and some interesting data regarding the cost of workers’ compensation claims. More statistical data regarding work-related injuries is available through the Department of Labor at bls.gov.

Total yearly workplace injuries in U.S.

Notable Work Injury Statistics:

  • Just under 3.5 million nonfatal workplace injuries were reported in 2019.
  • In 2018, 5,250 people were killed by work injuries, including 1,008 construction workers.
  • The most common workplace injuries in 2019 were sprains, strains, and tears.
  • Injured workers received $62.9 billion in workers’ compensation benefits in 2018.

Workplace Injury Statistics in 2019

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Data, employees and contractors reported nearly 3.5 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019. This amount has held steady from the year before.

BLS also reports that 888,220 of the occupational injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2019 were severe enough to require the worker to stay home from at least one day on the job to recuperate.

The following industries reported the highest injury rates:Injury rates by industry

Here’s more detail on the above numbers:

  • Trade, transportation, and utilities: 789,100 injuries, 22.6% of total reported
  • Educational and health services: 613,800 injuries, 17.6% of total reported
  • Health care and social assistance: 575,200 injuries, 16.4% of total reported
  • Manufacturing: 421,400 injuries, 12.1% of total reported
  • Retail trade: 395,700 injuries, 11.3% of total reported
  • Leisure, entertainment, and hospitality: 345,100 injuries; 9.9% of total reported

Types of injuries causing higher rates of missed work:

Type of Injury Cases % of Serious Injuries % of Total Injuries
Sprains, strains, tears 295,180 33.2% 8.4%
Soreness, pain 157,440 17.7% 4.5%
Fractures 85,710 9.6% 2.5%
Bruises, contusions 80,640 9.1% 2.3%
Cuts, lacerations 72,110 8.1% 2.1%

Workplace Injuries by Age Group

BLS reports that over 60% of workplace injuries requiring time off the job were sustained by workers between 25 and 54. This number is slightly lower than the percentage of the workforce composed of people in this age range. Workers ages 25 to 54 comprise 64.1% of workers age 16 and older and incurred 61.3% of these injuries.

We’ve listed the more detailed information about nonfatal occupational injuries that forced the worker to stay home by age demographic in the chart below.

Workplace Injuries By Age Group:

Workplace injuries by age group

Here’s more data on the numbers above:

Age Group Number of Injuries % of Total Injuries % of Workforce
14 to 15  220 0.02% Data Unavailable
16 to 19  25,530 2.87% 3.27%
20 to 24  85,800 9.66% 9.00%
25 to 34  189,310 21.31% 22.73%
35 to 44  170,280 19.17% 21.03%
45 to 54  184,850 20.81% 20.34%
55 to 64  163,570 18.42% 17.07%
65 and over  47,430 5.34% 6.57%
Total 888,220 100% 100%

Fatal Workplace Injuries

The BLS also reports data regarding workplace fatalities in its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). According to the CFOI, 5,250 people died in 2018 as a result of workplace injuries.

Causes of fatal work injuries:

Causes of fatal workplace injuries

The CFOI also identified the following industries as having the most worker fatalities in 2018:

  • Trade, transportation, and utilities: 1,379 fatal injuries, 26.3% of total deaths
  • Construction industry: 1,008 fatal injuries, 19.2% of total deaths
  • Natural resources and mining: 704 fatal injuries, 13.4% of total deaths
  • Professional and business services: 585 fatal injuries, 11.1% of total deaths
  • Manufacturing: 343 fatal injuries, 6.5% of total deaths
  • Leisure and hospitality: 253 fatal injuries, 4.8% of total deaths

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Claims

Jobs and wages protected by workers comp

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance system that provides financial benefits to workers injured on the job. Typically, these benefits are awarded on a no-fault basis, meaning that the employer does not have to be legally liable for the worker’s injury to receive payment.

According to data compiled by the National Academy of Social Insurance, approximately 142.6 million U.S. jobs and $8.2 trillion in wages were protected by workers’ compensation in 2018. This is a 1.6% increase in covered employment and a 5.0% increase in covered wages from 2017.

The total amount of workers’ compensation benefits paid in 2018 was $62.9 billion, a decrease of 1.2% from 2014. However, when this amount is adjusted for the increase in the total wages protected by workers’ compensation, the comprehensive benefits paid decreased by $0.16 per $100 of covered wages since 2014.

In 2018, the cost of workers’ compensation to employers was $98.6 billion, which is just over a 5% increase from 2014. Yet, when adjusted for the increase in covered wages, employer costs were only $1.21 per $100 in covered wages, a decrease of $0.16 (12.2%) from 2014. This data shows an overall decline in the cost to employers in recent years.

If you have been injured on the job and accept workers’ compensation benefits, you forfeit your right to sue your employer for their part in your injury. If you believe that your employer or someone else was at fault for the accident that hurt you, you should consult with a personal injury attorney near you before agreeing to accept workers’ compensation.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>