Press Release: Colorado Work-Related Fatalities Increased in 2021

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(DENVER) – The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program conducted by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE)’s Office of Labor Market Information (LMI), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), revealed that Colorado had 96 work-related fatalities in 2021. Nationally, a total of 5,190 workers died from a work-related injury in the U.S. in 2021, an 8.9 percent increase from the 4,764 workers in 2020.

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 2021. For the first time since 2016, violence and other injuries by person or animals 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.

2021 Census Profile

Major findings of the Census include:

  • The 96 fatal occupational injuries in 2021 were 23.1 percent higher than the total of 78 recorded in 2020.
  • There were 84 deaths involving wage and salary workers in 2021, up from 63 in 2020. Self-employed worker fatalities decreased from 15 in 2020, to 12 in 2021.
  • Transportation incidents were the leading cause of fatalities but down from the prior year by 13.8 percent. Transportation incidents decreased from 29 to 25 in 2021 and continue to lead all fatality events for at least the last 10 years.
  • Violence and other injuries by person or animals were up 155.6 percent over 2020. In 2021, there were 23 incidents, and 2020 had 9 reported incidents.
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments increased by 44.4 percent over 2020. In 2021, there were 13 incidents, and in 2020 there were 9. Within this category of exposure to harmful substances or environments is unintentional overdose from non-medical use of drugs.
  • Contacts with objects and equipment and falls, slips and trips accounted for 17 deaths each in 2021.

Worker Demographics

  • Men accounted for 81 (84.4 percent) of the fatal work injuries, while women accounted for 15 (15.6 percent).
  • Women worker fatalities in 2021 are up 150 percent from 2020. In 2021, there were 15 incidents, and in 2020 there were six.
  • White (non-Hispanic) workers accounted for 58 (60.4 percent) of the fatalities. Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 30 (31.3 percent) of the fatalities. Black or African-American (non-Hispanic), American Indian or Alaska Native (non-Hispanic), Asian (non-Hispanic), and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (non-Hispanic) data is suppressed and cannot be published.
  • Workers aged 25 to 34 saw an increase of 83.3 percent in fatalities from the year prior. In 2021, there were 22 incidents, and in 2020 there were 12.

Industry Profile

  • Fatal injuries in Trade, transportation, and utilities (28) lead in total deaths by industry, followed by Construction (25).
  • Regarding exposure to harmful substances or environments, the private industry saw fatalities increase from 9 to 12, an increase of 33.3 percent.

Occupation Profile

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

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. 2022 data will be publicly available in December 2023.

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