A look at the nature of U.S. workplace accidents, injuries and deaths

On behalf of Dennis Reich at Reich & Binstock LLP

Key federal data has been released for calendar year 2015.

Despite modern work-safety practices and government workplace regulation, people continue to be hurt and killed on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, known as the BLS, which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, collects and analyzes detailed national statistics about occupational injuries.

2015 BLS work-injury data

In October 2016, the BLS released 2015 data about work-related injuries and diseases. With one exception, the yearly totals had declined for the previous 13 years.

In 2015, private industry employers reported about 2.9 million nonfatal work injuries and diseases - which is a rate of about 3 injuries or illnesses for every 100 fulltime workers.

Data by industry

BLS collects injury data from 19 private industry sectors. In 2015, the rate of injury and disease increased in only one sector: wholesale trade. Six sectors reported a drop in injury and illness rates:

  • Mining, quarrying and gas and oil extraction
  • Manufacturing
  • Health care and "social assistance"
  • Accommodation and food services
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Finance and insurance

The lowest workplace injury and illness rate in 2015 was among "small establishment" employers of fewer than 11 people, while the highest was among midsize "private industry establishments" that employed 50 to 249 people.

Data by injury or disease

Of the 2.9 million 2015 injuries or illnesses in private industry, only 4.8 percent concerned illness, or 14.6 people per 10,000 fulltime workers. About two-thirds of these illnesses occurred within service industries and about one-third in goods-producing industries.

Regarding injuries, three-quarters occurred in service-providing industries and one-quarter in goods-producing industries.

2015 BLS fatal work injury data

BLS also released a report about 2015 work-related deaths, of which there were 4,836, a slight increase from 2014 and the highest since 2008. The rate of fatal injury per 100,000 fulltime workers, however, dropped slightly. Other statistics from this report of note:

  • More than one-quarter of total 2015 work fatalities were from "roadway incidents," up nine percent from the year before.
  • Workplace suicide went down almost 20 percent from 2014, but homicides went up 2 percent.
  • The most fatalities by occupation occurred among the large-commercial-truck drivers at 745.
  • Deaths in the private oil-and-gas extraction sector dropped almost 40 percent in one year.
  • Hispanic or Latino worker fatalities increased 12 percent in one year.
  • Deaths of workers born in Mexico increased 22 percent in one year.

Readers who wish to review these statistics in detail may follow the links to the reports above. In the meantime, anyone suffering from a work-related injury or illness should speak with an attorney as early as possible to understand potential legal remedies.


The lawyers at Reich & Binstock in Houston represent clients in Houston, throughout Texas and across the country in work injury and death claims involving third-party liability as well as surviving loved ones of people who died from work-related illness or accidents in wrongful death lawsuits.