Workplaces Have Highest Number of Unintentional Deaths Since 2008, says National Safety Council

Workplaces Have Highest Number of Unintentional Deaths Since 2008, says National Safety Council

In observance of Worker’s Memorial Day, NSC calls for renewed dedication to occupational safety.

​Itasca, IL – Unintentional injuries in the workplace – such as falls, motor vehicle crashes and exposures to chemicals or other harmful substances – have reached their highest level since 2008, according to National Safety Council analysis of final federal data[i]. In 2014, 4,132 workers died of unintentional injuries – an increase of 6% over 2013. This is the first sizable increase in unintentional workplace deaths in 20 years. In that time, 92,533 workers have been killed – every single death preventable.

The analysis comes just before the nation pauses to observe Worker's Memorial Day on April 28.

"Every single worker should make it home, safe and sound, to their family every night," said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute and EHS and Sustainability at NSC. "Clearly we are not doing enough to ensure that happens. On Worker's Memorial Day we need to remember those we have lost and renew our commitment to safety so we can save lives and reverse this trend."

Certain industries experienced sharper rises in unintentional injuries than others, including the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry (18%), the mining industry (18%), the manufacturing industry (11%) and the construction industry (8%). 

Older workers also saw a record-high number of fatalities – both intentional and unintentional. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,691 fatalities among workers 55 and older – a 4% increase over 2013.

To help ensure safer workplaces, NSC recommends:

  • Joining the Journey to Safety Excellence, a roadmap for employers to build a workplace that keeps workers safe
  • Protecting temporary and contract workers, who have significantly higher rates of incidents and deaths than permanent, non-contractual employees[ii]
  • Improving record keeping to ensure better data collection of occupational injuries and illnesses
  • Speaking up; federal laws entitle workers to safe workplaces and protect workers' rights to express any concerns without the fear of retaliation
  • Committing to safety excellence at work; visit and dedicate your pledge to your colleagues or someone you love
  • Advocating for safer workplaces; NSC encourages anyone impacted by workplace injury or death to join the Survivor Advocate Division

Purple ribbons are worn in observance of Worker's Memorial Day. NSC encourages everyone to wear a purple ribbon to remember those we have lost because of incidents we know how to prevent.


About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council,, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public on the leading causes of unintentional death, with a focus on distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

[i] NSC analyzes final 2014 fatality data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
[ii] According to Injury Facts 2016

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