Economic Burden of Occupational Fatal Injuries in the United States Based on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2003-2010

August 2017
NIOSH Dataset SD-1002-2017-0


It is widely acknowledged that there are costs involved with fatal injury to workers. These costs cross numerous boundaries, and generally address the overall costs to victims and the affected groups, and to society as a whole. This represents a cause for concern to employers, worker groups, policy makers, medical personnel, economists and others interested in workplace safety and health. This broad-reaching burden can include social costs, organizational costs, familial and interpersonal group costs, as well as personal costs such as suffering and loss of companionship. The data in the accompanying tables focus on monetary costs of fatal occupational injury which largely consist of foregone wages, but also include the direct costs of medical care and the indirect costs of household production and certain ancillary measures.

These data represent a continuation of prior research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that attempted to delimit the economic consequences of workplace injury for earlier years. Interested parties should be aware that these data serve as a supplemental update to prior NIOSH publications which described the magnitude and circumstances of occupational injury deaths for earlier years 1,2.

The current data build on this research, and the findings are compelling. Over the period studied, 2003-2010, the costs from these 42,380 premature deaths exceeded $44 billion, an amount greater than the reportable gross domestic product for some States. These findings inform the national will to reduce this severe toll on our nation’s workers, institutions, communities, and the nation itself. Researchers and concerned parties within the occupational and public health professions, academia, organizations focusing on workplace safety, labor unions and the business community have all proven to be willing and avid users of this data, and have used this research to continue their efforts, in concert with continuing NIOSH research efforts, to reduce the great toll that injury imposes on our workers, workplaces, and Nation.

Data Tables

The data pertaining to these analyses are available below in descriptive statistical formats.

These data tables were prepared by NIOSH. Through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NIOSH receives Census of Fatal Occupational Injury (CFOI) research files with restricted access requirements. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of BLS.

Data Collection and Analysis

See the attached file for a more detailed description of the data collection and analysis methods pdf icon[PDF – 634 KB].


The data analyses and cost tables were compiled by Dr. Elyce Biddle (formerly with NIOSH), Associate Professor, West Virginia University Department of Safety Management and Paul Keane (NIOSH, retired).  We would like to acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Daniel Hartley, Dr. James Collins, David Hilling, Suzanne Marsh, and Joyce Spiker from the NIOSH Division of Safety Research and Scott Richardson from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for their assistance in reviewing and preparing the data tables.


For further information contact:

Daniel Hartley, Ed.D.
NIOSH, Division of Safety Research
Analysis and Field Evaluations Branch
Telephone: (304) 285-5812


  1. Biddle E (2009). The Cost of Fatal Injuries to Civilian Workers in the United States, 1992-2001pdf icon. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NOSH) Publication Number 2009-154.
  2. Biddle EA, Keane PR (2011). The burden of occupational fatal injuries to civilian workers in the United States, based on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 1992-2002. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-130.
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics [2012]. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). Available at icon.  Accessed August 8, 2017.
  4. Biddle E (2004). Economic cost of fatal occupational injuries in the United States, 1980-1997, Contemporary Economic Policy 22(3) 370-381.
  5. RTI (2006). Cost of illness studies—A primer, Electronic resource.  Accessed August 8, 2016 iconexternal icon.
Page last reviewed: September 5, 2017