Workplace Injuries Report and Benefits Resource Guide

In this Guide...

Though the rates of serious injuries suffered at work fell dramatically in 2020, North Dakota, Arkansas and Nebraska still lead the nation in broken bones, amputations and other workplace trauma. Our report explores these troublesome trends and highlights a number of resources for workers to access disability benefits and more.

Key Findings


  • North Dakota, Arkansas and Nebraska have the highest rates of severe workplace injuries per capita.

  • Workplace injuries decreased by 38% from 2019 to 2020, as COVID-19 forced the shutdown of many factories, warehouses and other facilities.

  • North Dakota led the nation in several categories of severe workplace injuries, having the highest rates of bone fractures, amputations, burns and traumatic injuries or disorders.

If there were any silver linings to the massive labor shutdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that serious workplace injuries (unsurprisingly) fell dramatically. But that doesn’t mean U.S. workers have been spared entirely from broken bones, amputations and other trauma while on the job.

Using Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Severe Injury data, we identified the states with the highest rates of serious workplace injuries since 2015 in an effort to bring awareness to the rates of traumatic work injuries.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury at work, please explore the benefits resources included at the bottom of this guide to get help finding the benefits and support you need.

Workplace Injury Rates Plummeted During COVID-19

There were 11,074 severe workplace injuries reported nationwide in 2019, which is consistent with previous recent years. But in 2020, that number fell 38% to just 6,843 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced labor shutdown all over the U.S. 

Graphic chart showing historical trends in workplace injuries

Among the hardest hit industries were those in which one might expect severe workplace injuries to occur more frequently — production, extraction, construction, food preparation and manufacturing, to name just a few. 

States With the Highest Rates of Severe Workplace Injuries

North Dakota lead the nation in the rate of severe workplace injuries by a wide margin. 

Graphic table showing the number of severe workplace injuries per 100k people

There have been nearly 135 severe workplace injuries for every 100,000 people in North Dakota since 2015, which was 47% higher than the state with the next highest rate. 

North Dakota has the highest concentration of transportation and material moving jobs in the U.S., with a concentration of oil well pumpers nearly 30 times the national average. 

As you can see from the chart above, the states with the highest workplace injury rates are clustered in the South and the Midwest, where manufacturing and other manual labor jobs are the most heavily concentrated. 

Graphic table showing the 10 most common severe workplace injuries

States With the Highest Rates of Broken Bones at Work

Bone fractures were the most frequent type of severe workplace injury since 2015. Broken bones account for more severe workplace injuries than all other types combined (except for amputations, which we’ll detail further below).

Graphic tables showing the states with highest rates of severe work injuries by category

Broken bones were most prevalent in the Dakotas. South Dakota has the highest concentration of forest and conservation workers, at an occupation rate more than 27 times the national average.

Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of bone fractures were among the states with the highest rates of overall severe injuries.

States With the Highest Rates of Workplace Amputations

Amputations were the second-most frequent serious injury suffered on the job, and North Dakota again led all states by a wide margin. 

Arkansas, where the concentration of logging jobs is 18% higher than the national average, saw the second-high rate of workplace amputations. 

For each of the next eight states on the list, production jobs are the highest concentration of employment in the state. That includes production or processing of metal, plastic, upholstery, textiles, meat, poultry and more. In fact, of the 14 states where the highest concentration of employment is in production, eight rank among the top 10 for the highest rates of workplace amputations. 

States With the Highest Rates of Serious Burns Suffered at Work

Burns are also among the more common severe workplace injuries. The rates of serious workplace burns in North Dakota was nearly twice the rate of Alabama, the next state on the list. North Dakota’s burn rate was nearly three times that of Idaho, the state in eighth place on the list. 

In addition to production and logging, other common at-risk workers in states with high workplace burn rates include miners and moving machine operators (West Virginia), sailors and marine oilers (Louisiana), farmers (Wisconsin) and petroleum engineers (Texas).

States with the Highest Rates of Workplace Traumatic Injuries and Disorders

The U.S. Department of Labor dataset used in this report identifies an additional broad scope of traumatic injuries as “unspecified” when “the only information available describes the incident as traumatic.” So this could apply to, for example, to a worker who is injured in a work-related car accident but nothing else is known about the injury, or to a worker who suffers nonfatal blunt force trauma but the body part injured wasn’t reported.

Once again, North Dakota lead all states with the highest rate of these broadly reported traumatic injuries or disorders suffered on the job. 


The data used for this project comes from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Severe Injury Reports. The data was accessed on May 10th, 2021. The data includes severe workplace injuries from 2015 to 2020.

To calculate per capita representation of injury frequency, the population of employed individuals in each state was used, from the 2019 U.S. Census. The calculation is as follows: (total number of injuries/population of employed people) multiplied by 100,000.

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