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	hazard signs, worker avoiding falling box

Input: Economic Factors

Fatal Occupational Injuries

In the United States, for the year 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4,585 fatal work injuries.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. TABLE A-1. Fatal occupational injuries by industry and event or exposure, all United States, 2013 [PDF - 275 KB]

NIOSH fact sheets present the total, mean, and median costs of occupational fatalities by industry (according to the Standard Industrial Classification System) and selected characteristics for the period 1992–2002. Costs are expressed as the sum of direct and indirect costs: direct costs include medical expenses, while indirect costs are expressed as the value of future earnings (in present value terms) summed from the year of death until the decedent would have reached age 67. The total cost of fatal injuries exceeded $53 billion (in 2003 dollars) during the period examined.

NIOSH fatal occupational injury cost fact sheets (September 2006):

Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

For 2013, the BLS estimated 3.5 million injuries among workers in all industries including private industry and State and local government agencies at a rate of 3.3 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. Of these, 2.9 million injuries occurred in private industry at a rate of 3.1 per 100 FTE and 698,900 injuries occurred among State and local government workers at a rate of 5.9 per 100 FTE. Of the private industry injuries, 76% occurred in service providing industries and 24% occurred in goods producing industries. The four NORA private sector industries that had the largest number of nonfatal injuries were services (27%), wholesale and retail trade (21%), health care and social assistance (21%), and manufacturing (15%). Of the injuries that occurred among State and local government workers, 98% occurred in service providing industries (education/health services and public administration) and 2% occurred in goods producing industries. The BLS data are based on a survey of employers that excludes an estimated 14% of US workers, including the self-employed, private household workers, farms with fewer than 11 employees, and Federal government employees.

According to the 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, workers' compensation insurance costs for workers hurt on the job in 2012 amounted to $59.6 billion. The annual Workplace Safety Index tracks the causes of serious, non-fatal workplace injuries that cause workers to miss 6 or more days from work. The estimates are derived by combining information from Liberty Mutual Insurance, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Academy of Social Insurance. These direct, insured costs of workplace injury include indemnity (wage) payments to injured workers and payments for their medical care.

Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety studies (Huang et al., 2009, 2011) observed that chief financial executives reported, on average, that each $1 of direct costs due to injuries generated $2.12 of indirect costs, including the overtime, training, and lost productivity related to an injured employee not being able to perform their normal work. This same study further reported that financial decision-makers believed the return on investment for each $1 invested in improving workplace safety was an average of $4.41.

Estimates of Worldwide Burden

Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) are extensively used by the World Health Organization for international comparisons of disease burden. Developed by Murray and Lopez (1996), DALYs conceptualize the combined effect of years lived with a disability and premature death due to an exposure to a risk factor. Each year of life lived with a disability is taken as equivalent to the loss of a certain fraction of a year of healthy life, based on the severity of the disability. Other measures that aim to combine morbidity and mortality, such as Quality Adjusted Life Years, also are increasingly being used.

Worldwide, for the year 2000, hazardous conditions in the workplace were responsible for 312,000 fatal unintentional occupational injuries (Concha Barrientos et al., 2005). Together, fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries that year resulted in the loss of about 10.5 million DALYs.


Concha Barrientos, M., Nelson D.I., Fingerhut, M., Driscoll, T., Leigh, J. (2005). The global burden due to occupational injury . Am J Ind Med, 48(6):470-481.

Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index.

Huang, Y.H., Leamon, T.B., Courtney, T.K., DeArmond, S., Chen, P.Y., & Blair, M.F. (2009). Corporate financial decision-makers’ views of workplace safety: What safety professionals should know. Professional Safety, 36-42.

Huang, Y.H., Leamon, T.B., Courtney, T.K. Chen, P. & DeArmond, S. (2011). A comparison of workplace safety perceptions among financial decision-makers of medium- versus large-size companies. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43(1), 1-10.

Murray, C.J.L., and Lopez, A.D. The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Published by the Harvard School of Public Health on behalf of the World Health Organization and the World Bank; Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1996. Accessed online on October 19, 2015.