The 20 Most Important Workplace Safety Statistics
In this post, we’ll reveal some of the most important stats regarding workplace safety so you can be better prepared for whatever safety problems your organization faces.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth of the American workforce is slowing down. As fertility rates decline and older generations enter retirement, workers are becoming somewhat more scarce compared to the demand. On top of that, stagnant wages and myriad stressors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused many workers to reevaluate their job commitments, quit, or even exit the workforce entirely. For additional context, AlertMedia’s own research has shown that employees care more than ever about their safety on the job and expect their employers to provide a high degree of confidence that their workplace is safe.
The upshot of all this for workplace safety? Companies are going to have to work harder to recruit and retain top talent, and a big part of doing so will be creating safe jobs and work environments. It’s important to understand the national landscape of dangers and safety incidents, and a great way of doing so is by looking at workplace safety statistics.
Organizations such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts site gather comprehensive and reliable data on nationwide workplace injury rates, injury statistics, and safety trends. Many of the following facts are from their archives. AlertMedia’s State of Employee Safety Report provides unique insight into the views of workers themselves. Read on to better understand the trends that can inform your safety planning.
Workplace Safety Statistics in Perspective
The following figures — gathered by trusted government agencies such as the BLS and OSHA — reflect the entire American workforce across industries and demographics. We’ll take a look at how these workplace statistics have changed and any meaningful trends.
#1: There were 2.7 million non-fatal workplace safety incidents in 2020
These incidents include slips, trips, falls, illnesses, and other non-fatal injuries. This was a decrease of 5.7 percent from the 2.8 million in 2019.
#2: There were 4,764 recorded fatal workplace safety incidents in 2020
This works out to 3.4 fatalities per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee. This 2020 statistic is a 10.7 percent decrease from 2019 when there were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded.
#3: Worker deaths in America have decreased dramatically over the decades from about 38 worker deaths per day in 1970 to 15 per day in 2019.
However, there is still much work to be done to avoid preventable workplace deaths.
#4: Worker illnesses have also gone down significantly from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1970 to 2.8 per 100 in 2019.
#5: Preventable deaths increased almost every year from 2009 until 2019.
This number decreased by 10 percent from 2019 to 2020 but only due to a decrease in the total number of hours worked, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What workers think
The landscape of workplace safety has changed in some big ways over the past few years. Here are some of the recent insights AlertMedia collected for our 2022 State of Employee Safety Report.
#6: 73 percent of respondents to our Employee Safety Report said that feeling safe is “extremely important” when at work.
#7: By comparison, only 53 percent of respondents thought their employer considered their safety as “extremely important.”
There’s a gap between how important workers consider safety and how many of them perceive their employers think of it.
#8: 65 percent of respondents said they were concerned about cybercrimes, the most of any particular threat other than COVID-19 at 79 percent.
The threats workers face are evolving every day, and this is especially true of cybercrimes. As such, cybersecurity must keep up with these pervasive threats, and employers must commit to ongoing risk management.
#9: 55 percent of respondents thought their employers put in more effort to ensure their safety in the last year (2021–2022) than in previous years.
As an employee, it’s a great feeling when you know your company is trying its best to look out for you. Safety is an ever-evolving discipline and must be improved continuously.
#10: When asked what factors could make them most likely to stay at their current job, respondents rated safety as just as important as compensation.
It’s universally known that workers seek jobs with higher compensation, but it might come as a surprise to many that a feeling of safety is just as important to employees when deciding their future career moves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down in more ways than one with a particularly significant impact on workplace safety trends.
#11: The pandemic increased the total number of reported illnesses by nearly 4000 percent, from 127,200 in 2019 to 544,600 in 2020.
#12: Nurses and nursing assistants experienced a 290 percent increase in days away from work from 2019 to 2020 — more than any other occupation.
Of course, some jobs are more prone to certain risks than others. Employers need to have a strong understanding of what those risks are and a plan to protect employees from harm.
#13: The total U.S. workforce decreased from 158.7 million in 2019 to 148.9 million in 2020.
This decline was due to workers falling ill or dying, removing themselves from the labor pool to care for children or other family, or deciding that the current opportunities were not engaging enough.
#14: 17.5 percent of establishments required COVID-19 vaccinations for employees before they were allowed to work on-site.
Navigating employee safety, personal freedom, and federal and state vaccination laws has been difficult for many organizations.
#15: 47 percent of people with at least a bachelor’s degree teleworked in July of 2020, compared to only 4 percent of those with less than a high school diploma.
It’s important to remember that some demographics are less likely to be able to work remotely and are, therefore, more susceptible to work-related injuries and illnesses on the job site.
The most and least at risk
The risks a worker faces are influenced by their industry, demographic, and other factors. Here are some statistics that indicate higher-risk segments and others that are generally safer.
#16: The percentage of fatal workplace accidents including Hispanic or Latinx workers has increased to 22.5 percent in 2020 from 20.4 percent in 2019.
Most public- and private-industry sectors have decreased their occupational fatality rate, including among construction workers, maintenance technicians, and installation jobs. And while the total number of fatalities has fallen, the incidence rate has fallen much less for Hispanic or Latinx workers.
#17: Fishing and hunting workers suffer the highest rate of workplace fatality at 132 per 100,000 workers.
Those who fish and hunt for a living spend much time in remote areas without easy access to help or emergency services. This means that the natural dangers of operating industrial vehicles in rough terrain or seas, handling wild animals, and exposure to the elements become much more deadly.
#18: While women are less likely to die on the job, they are disproportionately more likely to be victims of workplace homicide.
As a specific example, women are roughly 20 times more likely to be killed by a relative or domestic partner while at work than are men.
#19: Retail trade worker fatalities decreased in 2020.
Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, retail workers were less likely to die at their workplace in 2020 than in 2019. However, they were more likely to miss more days of work.
#20: Telemarketing is considered the safest job in the U.S. by Indeed.
Unsurprisingly, workers who spend all day behind a desk in a secure office without public interaction have just about the safest job in the U.S. Certain office workers, including paralegals and HR professionals, aren’t far behind telemarketers in terms of relative workplace safety.
Why This Data Is Important
As your employees navigate their jobs from day to day, it’s easy to lose perspective on their relative safety. By remaining cognizant of the risks our own employees face, as well as the risks our neighboring industries deal with, we can continue making all jobs, all work environments, and all workers safer.
Not only is this the right thing to do morally, but it’s also good business. As our employee safety report demonstrates, workers are becoming increasingly concerned with their health and safety on the job, and they’re expecting more from their employers in turn. Companies that navigate the dangers of their work and keep their employees out of harm’s way are far more likely to retain top talent and enjoy better brand recognition than their competitors. Being aware of the wider threat landscape is only the first step toward meeting your organization’s duty of care. The critical steps you take next can make the difference for your employees’ ongoing health and safety.