Posted November 9, 2022

Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Decline 1.8 percent in 2021

Improvement is attributed to a 32.9 percent drop in reported illnesses.

Private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021, a decrease of 1.8 percent from 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

In 2021, the incidence rate of total recordable cases (TRC) in private industry was 2.7 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, unchanged from 2020. These estimates are from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).

The decline in injury and illness cases was due to a drop in illness cases, with private industry employers reporting 365,200 nonfatal illnesses in 2021, down from 544,600 in 2020, a drop of 32.9 percent.

This decrease was driven by a 37.1 percent decrease in employer reported respiratory illness cases in 2021 at 269,600, down from 428,700 in 2020. (See chart 2.)

In 2019, there were 127,200 illness cases and 10,800 respiratory illness cases. Total reported injury cases increased by 6.3 percent to 2.2 million cases
in 2021, up from 2.1 million cases in 2020. (See chart 1.)

The rate of injury cases increased in 2021, with private industry employers reporting a rate of 2.3 cases per 100 FTE workers compared to 2.2 cases in 2020. Over the same period, the rate of illness cases decreased from 55.9 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers to 37.7 cases. The decrease was driven by the drop in the respiratory illness rate, which fell from 44.0 cases per 10,000 FTE workers to 27.8 cases.

There were 1,062,700 nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused a private industry worker to miss at least one day of work in 2021, 9.7 percent lower than in 2020. The rate of cases that caused a worker to miss at least one day of work also decreased in 2021, from 1.2 cases per 100 FTE workers in 2020 to 1.1 cases in 2021.

Injuries and illnesses by sector

Total recordable injury and illness cases increased in six private industry sectors in 2021.

  • Retail trade and transportation and warehousing had the largest increases in cases. Retail trade increased from 341,100 cases in 2020 to 404,700 cases in 2021.
  • Transportation and warehousing increased from 206,900 cases in 2020 to 253,100 cases in 2021.
  • Health care and social assistance was the only private industry sector that had a decrease in the total number of cases in 2021, decreasing 183,200 cases to 623,000 in 2021. (See chart 3.) This was driven by a 163,600 decrease in the number of respiratory illness cases in 2021, decreasing to 145,300 respiratory illness cases in this sector.

In 2019, there were 3,500 respiratory illness cases in the private industry health care and social assistance sector. 

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