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Workplace deaths due to unintentional overdoses continue to rise

2021 marks the ninth consecutive year of an increase in fatal work injuries

Posted August 24, 2023

Workplace deaths due to unintentional overdoses from substances such as methamphetamine and fentanyl continue to rise. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show 2021 marked the ninth consecutive year of an increase in workplace fatalities from accidental overdoses.

There were 464 workplace fatalities resulting from overdoses caused by nonmedical use of drugs and alcohol in 2021, a 19.6 percent increase from 2020. These deaths represent more than half of the cases in the broader category of exposure to harmful substances or environments, where the number of workplace fatalities was 798.

In 2021, there were 5,172 fatal work injuries, including:

  • Transportation incidents – 1,982
  • Falls, slips, and trips – 850
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments - 798
  • Violence and other injuries – 761
  • Contact with objects and equipment – 705
  • Fires and explosions - 76

More information on work-related deaths can be found at

This article was written by Carmen King of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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