The Rate of Workplace Fatalities for Black Americans Reaches an All-Time High

New statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in 2021, 5,190 American workers died after suffering injuries while working. This was up by nearly 9 percent from 2020 when many workers were unemployed or worked from home due to the pandemic. The fatal work injury rate was 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, up from 3.4 per 100,000 n 2020 and up from the 2019 pre-pandemic rate of 3.5.

When we break down the figures by racial and ethnic group, we see that 653 African Americans died from work-related injuries in 2021. This was up 20.7 percent from 2020. The workplace fatality rate for Black workers was 4.0 per 100,000 workers, higher than the rate for the nation as a whole. African Americans made up 12.6 percent of all work-related fatalities due to injury. This was the highest percentage recorded since statistics on workplace fatalities have been collected.

Transportation incidents were the highest cause of fatalities for Black or African American workers with 267 deaths The second highest cause of fatalities for Black or African American workers was injuries due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals (155). Almost a quarter of Black or African American workplace fatalities (23.7 percent) are a result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals as opposed to 14.7 percent for all workers.

Before the pandemic, the number of African American deaths due to injuries suffered on the job had been increasing. In 2015, 495 African Americans died as a result of work-related injuries. This had climbed to 634 in 2019, an increase of 28 percent. This was more than double the increase for the population as a whole.

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