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Workers Memorial Day — April 28, 2012

Workers Memorial Day recognizes those workers who have died or sustained work-related injuries or illnesses. In 2010, a total of 4,547 U.S. workers died from occupational injuries (1), and each year, approximately 49,000 deaths are attributed to work-related illnesses (2). For 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that approximately 3.1 million workers in private industry and 820,000 in state and local government had a nonfatal occupational injury or illness (3). In 2010, an estimated 2.7 million workers were treated in emergency departments for occupational injuries and illnesses, and approximately 110,000 were hospitalized (CDC, unpublished data, 2012).

Economists are working to calculate the costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses in the United States. Recent research estimates the cost of fatal injuries at $6 billion and the cost of fatal illnesses at $46 billion. Nonfatal injuries and illnesses are estimated to cost $186 billion and $12 billion annually (4). Additional information on workplace safety and health is available from CDC at


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. Economic news release: table 2. Fatal occupational injuries by industry and selected event or exposure, 2010 (preliminary). Washington, DC: US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2012. Available at Accessed April 19, 2012.
  2. Steenland K, Burnett C, Lalich N, Ward E, Hurrell J. Dying for work: the magnitude of US mortality from selected causes of death associated with occupation. Am J Ind Med 2003;43:461–82.
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. Economic news release: workplace injury and illness summary. Washington, DC: US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2011. Available at Accessed April 19, 2012.
  4. Leigh JP. Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States. Millbank Q 2011;89:728–72.

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