Private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021, which is a 1.8% decrease over 2020 numbers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Nov. 9.
In 2021, the incidence rate of total recordable cases in private industry was 2.7 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, which was unchanged from 2020, according to the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
Illnesses down, injuries up
The 1.8% decrease was due to a drop in illness cases, with private industry employers reporting a 32.9% drop in nonfatal illnesses, down 365,200 in 2021 from 544,600 in 2020. This was driven by a 37.1% decrease in employer reported respiratory illness cases in 2021, from 428,700 in 2020 down to 269,600 in 2021.
Total reported injury cases increased by 6.3% to 2.2 million cases in 2021, up from 2.1 million cases in 2020. The rate of injury cases also increased in 2021, with private industry employers reporting 2.3 cases per 100 FTE workers compared to 2.2 cases in 2020.
Illness cases decreased from 55.9 cases per 10,000 FTE workers to 37.7 cases. That rate decrease was driven by the drop in respiratory illnesses, which fell from 44 cases per 10,000 FTE workers to 27.8 cases.
Days away from work down
Days of away from work also fell, with 1,062,700 nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused a private industry worker to miss at least one day of work in 2021, 9.7% lower than in 2020.
The rate of days away from work also decreased in 2021, from 1.2 cases per 100 FTE workers in 2020 to 1.1 cases in 2021.
Retail, transportation see increase in recordable cases
Total recordable injury and illness cases increased in six private industry sectors in 2021, with retail trade and transportation and warehousing having the largest increases.
Retail trade increased from 341,100 cases in 2020 to 404,700 cases in 2021. Transportation and warehousing increased from 206,900 cases in 2020 to 253,100 cases in 2021.
The only private industry that saw a decrease in the total number of cases in 2021 was the health care and social assistance sector, which decreased by 183,200 cases to 623,000. This was driven by a 163,600 decrease in the number of respiratory illness cases in 2021.
Health care, retail saw high rate of respiratory illnesses
While this industry saw a decrease in cases, it simultaneously had the highest rate of respiratory illnesses in 2021 with 99.2 cases per 10,000 FTE workers. This is still 52.7% lower than in 2020 when the rate was 209.8 cases per 10,000 FTE workers.
Retail had the next highest rate of respiratory illnesses at 37.5 cases per 10,000 FTE workers, which is a 91% jump up from 2020 when the incidence rate was 19.6 cases.
The health care and social assistance and retail sectors accounted for 69.5% of the 269,600 total respiratory illness cases in 2021.
Other highlights include:
- the incidence rate of cases in private retail trade increased from 3.1 in 2020 to 3.6 cases per 100 FTE workers in 2021, an increase of 15.6%
- the days away from work rate in private industry food manufacturing decreased 15.1% from 2.5 cases per 100 FTE workers in 2020 to 2.1 cases in 2021
- private industry days away from work cases in the transportation and warehousing sector in 2021 increased 23% to 122,700 cases, and
- other recordable cases in the private industry wholesale trade sector increased 12.1% in 2021 to 40,400 cases.