National COSH

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (formerly the "National COSH Network")

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Facts on Workplace Safety and Health in the U.S.

Each year, some 5,500 workers die on the job and some 5.7 million are injured or become ill due to workplace hazards in the U.S.

Over 1.6 million workers are injured seriously enough to miss work each year.

Over 600 people are killed in acts of workplace violence each year.

It would take 84 years for OSHA to inspect each workplace in the U.S. once.

Over 8 million workers in the U.S.–those employees by state and local governments–lack any OSHA protections.


Fatality rate for all U.S. workers in 2002: 4.0 per 100,000 employees.


Fatality rate in 1970 when the OSH Act was passed: 18.0


While fatality rates for all workers have steadily declined in recent years, the rate for Hispanic workers actually increased significantly.


Occupational injuries and illnesses per 100 workers in 2000: 6.1


Occupational injuries and illnesses per 100 workers in 1972: 10.9


53 youth aged 17 and under were killed on the job in 2001.


Federal OSHA’s budget is insufficient to allow them to enforce safety and health laws adequately. The OSHA budget in 1980 provided for a total of 2,951 Full-Time Equivalent staff positions. The budget for 2002 provides for only 2,316–a 22% reduction from the 1980 high point.


OSHA programs, including both state and federal jurisdictions, have a combined total of only 2,238 inspectors (compliance officers) to enforce the law and provide protections for over 200 million workers.

Dangerous Jobs: Selected Occupations with High Fatality Rates

Occupation Number of Fatal Injuries Fatality Rate/100,000
Pilots and Navigators 90 69.8
Farm Occupations 519 28.0
Construction Laborers 302 27.7
Truck Drivers 808 25.0
Groundskeepers 146 15.0
Police and Detectives 140 11.6
Laborers (non-constr.) 181 14.2
Electricians 116 13.5
Carpenters 108 6.9

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2002 data.

Fatality Rates by Industry Division, 2002

Industry Division Fatality Rate Fatalities
Mining 23.5 121
Agriculture 22.7 789
Construction 12.2 1,121
Transportation 11.3 910
Wholesale trade 4.0 205
Manufacturing 3.1 563
Government 2.7 554
Retail Trade 2.1 487
Services 1.7 680
Finace 1.0 87

Major Causes of Fatal Injuries on the Job (2002)

Cause Number
Highway Incidents 1,372
Falls 714
Homicides 609

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2002 data.

U.S. states with the highest fatality rates (2000)
State Fatality rate/100,000
Alaska 19.2
Wyoming 15.6
Montana 11.1
Mississippi 11.0
North Dakota 11.0

States with the lowest fatality rates

State Fatality rate/100,000
Rhode Island 1.5
Massachusetts 2.0
New Hampshire 2.1
Minnesota 2.6

Industries with the Highest Lost Workday Injury and Illness Rates, 2000

(per 100 workers)

Meat packing plants

Ship building and repairing 11.7
Motor vehicles and car bodies 10.5
Truck trailers 10.4
Air transportation, scheduled 10.4
Transportation equipment, n.e.c. 10.2
Travel trailers and campers 10.0
Aluminum foundries 9.9
Plastics pipe 9.6
Public building and related furniture 9.5

Get the Details:

Detailed charts describing fatal work injuries in the U.S., 2002, with some historical data. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workplace Fatalities, U.S. since the passage of OSHA (1970-2000) by year. (pdf)

Occupational Injury and Illness case rates by year, 1972-2000. (pdf)

Fatal workplace injuries by industry and event or exposure: Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002. (pdf)

Detailed Occupational Injury and Illness data by occupation, industry, etc. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)