Membership Advantage

November 2022

Data Reveals Racial Disparities in Safety

Letter from an Expert

Since 1921, Injury Facts® reported the facts on preventable injuries and deaths from the workplace to anyplace. We follow the data, and it tells us where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Injury Facts is designed as a tool for everyone – the safety professional, writer or journalist, public speaker, government worker, educator, business owner, parent. The data on the site provides reliable information to help you communicate the trends of the past, and the ones we see right now, and to anticipate the future and change it for the better.

One of the more recent pages added explores work injuries and illnesses by race or ethnic origin. The data examined on this page reveals some surprising, and problematic, disparities in the safety of workers based on their racial or ethnic identity. 

In 2020, the majority of workers killed were white (61%), followed by Hispanic or Latino workers (23%), Black or African-American workers (11%), and Asian workers (3%). All other groups accounted for 1% or less of total deaths. 

The basic data, however, doesn’t tell the whole story. While a majority of workers killed were white, Black and Hispanic/Latino workers are in fact dying at higher rates than their white counterparts. While white workers experienced a death rate of 3.3 per 100,000 workers, Black workers’ rate was 3.5. Hispanic or Latino workers’ death rate is the highest, at 4.5. 

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted these numbers significantly. The pandemic disrupted life in 2020 and led to a fewer number of hours worked. Because of this, all groups experienced fewer occupational deaths in 2020 compared to 2019. 

In 2020, death rates decreased significantly for white (-12.1%), Black or African-American (-14.7%) and Asian (-17.1%) workers. The change for Hispanic or Latino workers, however, was minimal, with a drop of only 1.5%.

This pandemic-related trend meant that while overall death rates decreased, Black or African-American and Hispanic or Latino workers still experience higher rates than white workers. In fact while most every group experienced a decreased death rate in 2020, the rate for Hispanic and Latino workers increased, from 4.2 to 4.5 per 100,000 workers. 

This data is invaluable in understanding the disparities in the safety of workers based on their racial or ethnic identity. Yet more is needed. Fatality rates by race or ethnic origin are not available for specific industries or occupations. Without this industry and occupational specific data, the ability to target interventions for workers at the highest risk of death is severely limited.

Unfortunately, nonfatal occupational data by race or ethnic origin are also limited and are of low statistical quality. Employers fail to report racial and ethnic information in nearly half of all cases involving days away from work, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report injury rates by race or ethnic origin. These factors make it impossible to assess the risk of nonfatal injuries and illnesses based on race or ethnic origin. 

This lack of information is in contrast to other demographic data made available by BLS, such as rates based on sex and age. 

Organizations can and should move beyond what we are currently able to track nationally. Internal benchmarking within an organization is an important first step to determine if all your employees are equally benefitting from your safety program. Assess the data you have already collect related to your safety and health programs. Find out what other diversity, equity and inclusion efforts around data are already underway at your organization where you can include safety and health.

Ken Kolosh
Statistics Manager
National Safety Council

Research Insights

COVID-19 Lessons Learned and a New Cost Calculator

The NSC SAFER initiative recently released a report, COVID-19 Workplace Lessons Learned and Future Actions for a SAFER Tomorrow, highlighting employer COVID-19 response insights from October 2021 through September 2022. The report provides guidance on topics from vaccine requirements and mitigation efforts to emerging topics like worker health and wellbeing, hybrid work and emergency preparedness. 

Key report findings include:

The mental health and wellbeing of workers has suffered during the pandemic, and employers are responding to meet the increasing need for supportive interventions.

● 50% of large employers (250+ employees) have observed an increase in mental health or impairment-related absences and incidents during the pandemic.
● Of employers with an employee assistance program (EAP), one in four had implemented the EAP for the first time and two-thirds had expanded EAP offerings during the pandemic. 

Impact of the pandemic and the safety, mental health and wellbeing of workers varies across industries and occupations.

● Feeling unsafe at work, physically or psychologically, is associated with negative mental health outcomes. Survey respondents who felt unsafe at work were two to three times more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.
● 60% of people who work in public-facing roles and had a history of infection said it was extremely likely they caught COVID-19 on the job.

In August 2022, 70% of organizations with more than 250 employees required proof of vaccination from some or all workers, and 79% of requirement policies included booster doses.

● On average, employers with vaccine requirements retained 99% of their workforce.
● Of employers who noticed a change in morale after requirements took effect, two-thirds noted the change was an improvement in worker morale.

Vaccine policies such as paid time off encourage higher vaccine uptake among those who are not required to be vaccinated.

● The vaccination rate for workers who receive PTO for vaccine appointments was 12 percentage points higher than those who did not.
● 78% of large employers provide incentives or encouragements to help working parents get their children vaccinated, such as paid time off, onsite vaccination for families, or gifts and bonuses.         

COVID-19 Cost Calculator

The COVID-19 Cost Calculator, developed by NSC and Verdantix, estimates the costs to your company of an infectious disease and identifies how much you could save by implementing a mitigation strategy. It can be used to estimate costs incurred or mitigated during COVID-19, specifically, as well as to generalize the expense and savings of responding proactively to future infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics. Just enter the size of your workforce, average salary and other information to see how much is spent per employee during an outbreak with and without mitigations like a new ventilation system and PPE. 

Safer Workplaces

New Report on Workplace Fatality Prevention

The Work to Zero team at NSC has launched a new report, Using Computer Vision as a Risk Mitigation Tool, sharing how computer vision technology is capable of accurate, consistent and automatic monitoring of a variety of workplace hazards. Notable findings from the report include:

● Due to its ability to track and log data and instantly deploy this information to predict when incidents may occur, computer vision is ideal for industries involving heavy machinery and extensive movement such as manufacturing, logistics, construction and warehousing. 

● Computer vision is especially effective in identifying when personal protective equipment is being properly utilized, such as in the case of employees wearing hard hats and high-visibility vests, and enables managers to more efficiently mitigate unsafe situations. In addition, this technology can be used to help monitor fatigue and other impairing conditions when driving.  

● By detecting anomalies in the workplace, such as unwanted guests, unusual behaviors and weapons, computer vision can be a helpful tool for employers to identify and prevent workplace violence.

● Computer vision also has applications that can improve workplace health by monitoring ill employees, including with whom they have interacted and objects in which they may have come in contact. Some computer vision systems can also be trained to recognize best practices during emergency situations.

Despite its many benefits, the Work to Zero research team also uncovered limitations with current computer vision technology, such as image quality on closed-circuit televisions and A.I. software’s ability to operate in unfamiliar settings. Further, the report emphasizes common challenges to widespread computer vision adoption, including cost and system security barriers, prompting the call for employers and vendors to increase collaboration as well as transparency when implementing safety solutions.

Solutions to Address MSDs in the Workplace

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are the most common cause of disability, involuntary retirement and limitations to gainful employment. Recognizing the need to address this prevalent workplace safety concern NSC has released a new white paper: Preventing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders: A Systematic Review of Current Interventions and Future Research Directions. Published through its MSD Solutions Lab initiative, the report uncovers many effective interventions used to prevent and reduce the impact of these injuries on the job.

The report references nearly 60 scientific studies and academic publications after initially identifying 13,500 potential articles on the topic. It examines interventions across the top 10 afflicted industries to determine safety initiatives most effective at reducing MSDs. Notably, the publication found that, consistent across multiple studies, interventions including the use of assistive devices, exoskeletons or employer-backed physical activity programs have the potential to be effective at reducing MSD discomfort, pain and injury. Programs coupling physical modifications with cognitive processes and organizational change management forms of prevention were shown to have higher levels of effectiveness than those focusing on physical modifications alone. 

The MSD Solutions Lab also revealed findings related to the effectiveness of commonly adopted MSD interventions, prompting the call for more extensive research in these areas:

● Using innovative product designs, such as active suspension seats, as well as the right patient handling equipment and devices have shown the potential to reduce exposure to MSD risks. 

● While wearables and exoskeletons are perceived to have many workplace benefits, some studies cite adverse effects on body parts not stabilized by the exoskeleton, or irritation on the body parts fitted to the device, thus highlighting a need for more research before widespread implementation. 

● Further research is needed to expand upon MSD prevention measures among diverse populations. 

● In addition, physical activities such as stretching, walking, yoga and Pilates may be viable solutions for providing workers with relief from musculoskeletal pain, but more research is needed to understand their effectiveness across various industries.

What's New

Member Appreciation Month is Almost Here!

Each January the National Safety Council takes the entire month to celebrate you, our dedicated members and partners in safety. We have a lot of fun and excitement planned so stay tuned and keep an eye out for more information.


Join us for the third annual virtual SAFER Summit spanning two half-days on Dec. 6 and 7.This free event is aimed at helping businesses, policymakers and leaders. The Summit will provide fresh insights on lessons learned in the last year of the pandemic. It will explore how to navigate the new normal and emerging topics as the U.S. and other nations work through this phase of the pandemic. Register today.

Attend The Future of EHS

Join NSC Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2023, in Long Beach, CA, for a conference bringing together EHS professionals, business leaders, researchers and solutions providers for an open exchange of forward-looking ideas, the latest in safety innovations and best practices. Formerly known as the Campbell Institute Symposium and Work to Zero Summit and Expo, The Future of EHS will continue to provide leading-edge content in a new and engaging format. Learn more.

Get Expert Safety Tips for Your Teen Driver

It’s tragic but true: car crashes remain the number one cause of death for U.S. teens. In fact, American roads are the deadliest they have been in years, but your involvement can make a difference. DriveitHOME, a program of the National Safety Council, has teamed up with Honda to provide 15 free virtual parent nights in 2023 to put an end to these alarming statistics. If you, a loved one or a friend have a new driver in the family, an NSC parent night can provide:

● Details on the biggest risks facing your teen driver

● Crucial data and specific GDL laws in your state

● Simple tips and free resources to help you get and stay involved as your teen learns to drive

Register today for an upcoming virtual event in your state and learn what you can do to help keep your new driver safe. 


Shopping Cart

There are no items in your cart