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Unintentional overdoses accounted for 388 workplace deaths in 2020

January 07, 2022

Unintentional overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs accounted for 388 workplace deaths in 2020. The number of fatal workplace overdoses increased in each of the last 8 years. The number in 2020 was the highest since these data began in 2011. Unintentional overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs include overdoses from stimulants such as methamphetamine and from narcotics such as fentanyl.

Workplace deaths due to unintentional overdose from nonmedical use of drugs, 2011–20
Year Workplace deaths due to unintentional overdoses

2011

73

2012

65

2013

82

2014

114

2015

165

2016

217

2017

272

2018

305

2019

313

2020

388

Unintentional overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs represented more than half (57.7 percent) of the cases in the broader event category, exposure to harmful substances or environments. This was the only event category with an increase in workplace deaths in 2020. In total, there were 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2020, a 10.7-percent decrease from 5,333 in 2019.

Fatal work injuries by major event or exposure, 2016–20
Major event or exposure 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

Transportation incidents

2,083 2,077 2,080 2,122 1,778

Falls, slips, trips

849 887 791 880 805

Violence and other injuries by person or animal

866 807 828 841 705

Contact with objects and equipment

761 695 786 732 716

Exposure to harmful substances or environments

518 531 621 642 672

Fires and explosions

88 123 115 99 71

These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. To learn more, see “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2020.” We also have more charts on fatal work injuries. For information about COVID-19 and these data, see our Frequently Asked Questions on accessing our data.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Unintentional overdoses accounted for 388 workplace deaths in 2020 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/unintentional-overdoses-accounted-for-388-workplace-deaths-in-2020.htm (visited December 06, 2022).