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Americans employed in private industry suffered more than 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Both injuries (2.3 million, up 4.5%) and illnesses (460,700, up 26.1%) increased from 2021 to 2022. In 2022, the most common causes of workplace injury or illness were overexertion and bodily reaction, contact with objects and equipment, falls, slips, and trips, as well as exposure to harmful substances or environments.

How did the pandemic affect workplace injuries and illnesses?

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 led to increased workplace illnesses — particularly respiratory sickness. In 2019, private employers reported 126,800 incidents of workplace illnesses to BLS, about 10% of which were respiratory. In 2020, workplace illnesses spiked to 544,600, over 428,700 of which (78.7% of illnesses) were respiratory. After declining slightly in 2021, respiratory illness cases increased to 365,000 (79.2% of illnesses) in 2022, an annual increase of 35.4%.

In 2021 and 2022 combined, BLS reports that COVID was the underlying cause of 560,750 total cases of days spent away from work. Grocery store employees, for example, had respiratory illness rates increase from 66.8 to 190.4 per 10,000 full-time employees.

How much work do Americans miss due to injuries and illness?

Between 2021 and 2022, BLS reports that workplace illnesses and injuries were the cause of 3.3 million cases of days away from work, job restriction, or transfer. The median time these cases affected employees was 10 days away from work, or 15 days in cases of job transfer or restriction. BLS also highlights that workers ages 25 to 34 were involved in about one-quarter of such cases (23%).

Learn more about workplace injuries in the US, read the America in Facts 2023 report, and sign up for our newsletter.

Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities
Last updated
November 2023