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Press Release: Colorado Work-Related Fatalities Decreased in 2020

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Important note: The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program reports fatal workplace injuries only. These may include fatal workplace injuries complicated by an illness such as COVID-19. Fatal workplace illnesses not precipitated by an injury are not in scope for CFOI. CFOI does not report any illness related information, including COVID-19. Additional information is available at

The CFOI program conducted by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Office of Labor Market Information (LMI), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reveals Colorado had 78 work-related fatalities in 2020. Nationally, a total of 4,764 workers died from a work-related injury in the U.S. in 2020, a 10.7 percent decrease from the 5,333 workers in 2019.

The figures, available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, indicate work injuries involving transportation remained the most common cause of work-related deaths in Colorado in 2020. Falls, slips or trips were the second-most prevalent cause of work-related deaths. Some numbers below are not included in totals, because some data do not meet the BLS publication criteria.

2020 Census Profile

Major findings of the Census include:

  • The 78 fatal occupational injuries in 2020 were 7.0 percent lower than the total of 84 recorded in 2019.
  • There were 63 deaths in 2020 involving wage and salary workers, down from 66 in 2019. Self-employed worker fatalities decreased from 18 in 2019 to 15 in 2020.
  • Transportation incidents were the leading cause of fatalities but down from the prior year by 22.0 percent. Transportation incidents decreased from 37 to 29 in 2020, and continues to lead all fatality events for at least the last 10 years.
  • Falls, slips, or trips incidents were up 83.3 percent over 2019. In 2020 there were 22 incidents and 2019 had 12 reported incidents.

Worker Demographics

  • Men accounted for 72 (92.3 percent) of the fatal work injuries, while women accounted for six (7.7 percent).
  • White (non-Hispanic) workers accounted for 43 (55.1 percent) of the fatalities. Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 26 (33.3 percent) of the fatalities. Black or African-American (non-Hispanic) and American Indian or Alaska Native (non-Hispanic) accounted for 6 total incidents (3 each) which represents 7.6 percent of the fatalities.

Industry Profile

  • Fatal injuries in Trade, transportation and utilities (32) lead in total deaths by industry, followed by Construction (18) and Professional and business services (6).
  • Leisure and hospitality shows a 57.1 percent decrease over the year. In 2020, there were 3 fatalities, a decrease from 7 in 2019. 
  • Regarding exposure to harmful substances or environments, the private industry saw fatalities increase from 6 to 9, an increase of 50.0 percent.

Occupation Profile

  • Transportation incidents continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in the Transportation and material moving occupation.  
  • Falls, slips or trips are the leading cause of fatalities in Construction and extraction occupations.

Program Background

In an effort to compile data that is as complete as possible, the CFOI program uses diverse sources to identify, verify, and describe fatal work injuries. Source documents, such as death certificates, coroners’ reports, workers’ compensation claims, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports, and other records are cross-referenced to gather key information about each workplace fatality, such as the particular occupation and industry in which the fatality occurred, worker demographics, equipment or machinery involved, and circumstances of the event. The CFOI program compiles the most complete, verifiable count of fatal occupational injuries in the U.S.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment took over the responsibility of collecting these data in October of 2020 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 2021 data will be publicly available in December 2022.

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