National COSH on new report of 5,486 US workplace deaths in 2022: We Can Stop Worker Deaths, We Have Tools to Prevent These Tragedies

19 Dec 2023

For immediate release

Contact:  Melissa Moriarty,, 603.505.7135

National COSH on new report of 5,486 US workplace deaths in 2022:

We Can Stop Worker Deaths, We Have Tools to Prevent These Tragedies

Urgent action needed on racial discrimination, workplace violence, extreme heat and infectious disease


Los Angeles:  Leaders of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) said today that 5,486 deaths from sudden workplace trauma in 2022, a 5.7% increase from 2021, show the need for urgent action to make our workplaces safer.

“Workers should never, ever have to risk their lives to earn a paycheck,” said Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of the National COSH. “If employers listen to workers and adopt preventive and comprehensive safety measures" we can stop worker deaths.”

“This year again, we see that Black and Brown workers are dying at a higher rate than other workers,” said Martinez. “This disparity reflects both historical and current discrimination in our workplaces and cannot be tolerated. All workers have a right to get home safe and sound after a day at work” 

The 2022 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shows a steadily increasing rate of workplace deaths for Black and Hispanic or Latino workers. The fatal injury rate for Black workers increased to 4.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, from 4.0 in 2021.  For Hispanic or Latino workers, the fatal injury rate increased to 4.6 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2022, up from 4.5 in 2021.

Both figures are significantly higher than the overall fatal injury rate of 3.7 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2022. 

BLS data also show 849 deaths from workplace violence, a sharp increase of 11.6 percent from 2021. Deaths from unintentional overdoses increased by 13.1 percent in 2022, while workplace deaths from suicide also increased by 13.1 percent. 

The CFOI, a nationwide count of workers who die after workplace injuries, accounts for deaths from sudden, traumatic events, such as a fall from a height, a collision with machinery, and other preventable workplace incidents. A far greater number of workers, estimated at 95,000 per year in the United States, die from diseases caused by long-term exposure to toxic chemicals and other preventable occupational hazards. 

“As friends, families and co-workers gather for holiday celebrations in the coming weeks, there will be thousands of workers missing who should still be alive,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, also a co-executive director of National COSH. “It breaks our hearts to know that we have the tools and knowledge to prevent these tragedies.” 


Among other measures, National COSH recommends these urgent steps to reduce preventable workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities:

  • Engage workers in the development and training of comprehensive safety programs and solutions. Include workers in safety committees and encourage hazard reporting without retaliation. 
  • Full enforcement of whistleblower protections so that workers can speak up about safety issues. Continue and expand  strong protections for all workers, regardless of immigration status, who are witnesses to violations of federal safety laws. 
  • Immediate action by employers to develop effective workplace violence prevention programs, with full worker input, to address the alarming rise in violence-related workplace fatalities.
  • Rapid action on a nationwide standard to protect workers from extreme heat, which already causes as many as 2,000 fatalities and 170,000 illnesses and injuries each year. These risks for both indoor and outdoor workers will continue to grow due to climate change. 
  • Revised and improved guidelines to protect health care workers from the next pandemic and other infectious diseases. Current proposals from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are entirely inadequate. The CDC is failing to recognize scientific evidence about airborne transmission and relying too heavily on individual personal protective equipment (PPE), while not putting enough emphasis on system-wide controls such as ventilation and patient and visitor screening.
  • Increased funding for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to ensure regular workplace inspections and thorough enforcement of safety laws and regulations. At current staffing rates, OSHA can inspect all workplaces under its jurisdiction only once every 190 years


“We live in a world with many intractable problems,” said Martinez. “Reducing workplace deaths and injuries is not one of them. A worker-centered approach, based on sound science, can reduce and eliminate the hazards we face on the job, and result in fewer empty seats during next year’s holiday celebrations.”


National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit Follow us @NationalCOSH on Facebook, @NationalCOSH on X and @NationalCOSH on Instagram.