Mission, History, and Objectives

What is the NIOSH FACE program?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program is a research program designed to identify and study fatal occupational injuries. The goal of the FACE program is to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then formulating and disseminating prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace.

The FACE program currently has two components: the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation project (NIOSH FACE) and the State-based Fatality Surveillance Using FACE Model project (State FACE).

  • NIOSH FACE began in 1982. Participating states voluntarily notify NIOSH of traumatic occupational fatalities resulting from targeted causes of death that have included confined spaces, electrocutions, machine-related, falls from elevation, working youth, and logging. NIOSH FACE is currently targeting investigations of deaths associated with robot-related, law enforcement officer motor vehicle, tree care/arborist, powered industrial trucks/warehousing, tow truck drivers, and waste collection/sanitation.
  • State FACE began in 1989. Currently, eight State health or labor departments have cooperative agreements with NIOSH for conducting surveillance, targeted investigations, and prevention activities at the state level using the FACE model. In addition to the NIOSH targets, states conduct investigations of fatalities related to state-level targets. State FACE investigations have included fatalities related to renewable energy, logging, agriculture, transportation, commercial aviation and fishing, suicides and homicides, worker deaths involving toxicological issues, semi-truck and dump truck fatalities, public sector workers, incidents involving multiple workers, chemical-related fatalities, young workers under 25 years of age, older workers over 60 years of age, asthma-related deaths, temporary workers and volunteers, and tree trimmers. Categories that differ from the NIOSH FACE targeted causes of death may only be available on individual state websites.

What FACE is not!

FACE is a research program; investigators do not enforce compliance with State or Federal occupational safety and health standards and do not determine fault or blame.

FACE Investigations Conducted Thru 2021 in 46 States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

What are the primary activities of the FACE program?

  • Conducting surveillance to identify occupational fatalities
  • Performing investigations of specific types of events to identify injury risks
  • Developing recommendations designed to control or eliminate identified risks
  • Making injury prevention information available to workers, employers, and safety and health professionals.

Why does the FACE program conduct on-site investigations?

On-site investigations are essential for observing sites where fatalities have occurred and for gathering facts and data from company officials, witnesses, and co-workers. Investigators collect facts and data on what was happening just before, at the time of, and right after the fatal injury. This becomes the factual basis for writing investigative reports.

During the on-site investigations, facts and data are collected on items such as:

  • type of industry involved
  • number of employees in the company
  • company safety program
  • the victim’s age, sex, occupation
  • the working environment
  • the tasks the victim was performing
  • the tools or equipment the victim was using
  • the energy exchange resulting in fatal injury
  • the role of management in controlling how these factors interact

Why is the FACE program important?

Each day, on average, 13 U.S. workers die as a result of a traumatic injury on the job. Investigations conducted through the FACE program allow the identification of factors that contribute to fatal occupational injuries. This information is used to develop comprehensive recommendations for preventing similar deaths.

What happens to the information collected?

Surveillance and investigative reports are maintained by NIOSH in a database. NIOSH researchers use this information to identify new hazards and case clusters. FACE information may suggest the need for new research or prevention efforts or for new or revised regulations to protect workers. NIOSH publications are developed to highlight these high-risk work situations and to provide safety recommendations. These publications are disseminated to targeted audiences and are available on the Internet through the NIOSH homepage or through the NIOSH publications office.

What types of publications use FACE data?

Examples of publications using FACE data include NIOSH Alerts on such subjects as skid-steer loaders, grain augers, suspension scaffolds, power take-offs, skylights, excavations, and logging. Three monographs, Worker Deaths in Confined Space, Worker Deaths by Electrocution, and Fatal Falls From Elevation, detail findings from 386 of the 500 on-site fatality investigations conducted. Articles have also been published in scientific journals and trade magazines. NIOSH investigators have also presented safety recommendations learned from FACE investigations to safety professionals, industrial hygienists, and others whose responsibilities include worker safety.

Is FACE information kept confidential?

The names of employers, victims, and/or witnesses are not used in written investigative reports or included in the FACE database.

Who do I contact for further information?

If you have further questions concerning the FACE program, please contact the NIOSH Division of Safety Research at the following address.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Division of Safety Research
Surveillance and Field Investigations Branch
1000 Frederick Lane, M/S 1808
Morgantown, WV 26508
Phone: (304) 285-5916 FAX: (304) 285-5774


For questions concerning the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, please contact NIOSH at

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Telephone: 1-800-CDC-INFO ( 1-800-232-4636)
TTY: 1-888-232-6348
E-mail: cdcinfo@cdc.gov

or visit the NIOSH Web site. For a monthly update on news at NIOSH, subscribe to NIOSH eNews.

Extensive FACE contact information.

Page last reviewed: September 7, 2021