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Traumatic Work-related Deaths (Fatalities)

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Department of Health and Human Services

Traumatic Work-related Deaths (Fatalities)

Work-related deaths are generally not random events and often can be prevented.1 On average, 2-3 workers die of a work-related injury each week in Michigan. All workers have a right to work in a workplace where they can go home safe and sound at the end of the day.2 Injury and death are more likely to occur when rules, regulations, and best industry practices are not followed.

Future work-related fatalities can be prevented if we 1) learn from the tragedies that have occurred, 2) review information about these deaths, and 3) share cause and prevention strategies with employers, employees, safety consultants and governmental agencies, who can improve safe work practices in the workplace.3

Data for work-related deaths are available on the MiTracking Data Portal.

  • The main causes of Michigan work-related deaths are4:

    • Being struck by objects such as falling trees, falling loads from trucks or rigging, or vehicles falling from jack stands.
    • Falls.
    • Homicides.
    • Machines such as tractors, cranes, robots, or forklifts.
    • Motor vehicle crashes.

    For more information, visit MSU OEM: Work Related Fatalities.

    Leading causes of injury differ by industry. The top Michigan industries with work-related deaths are:

    • Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services
      • Motor vehicle crashes
      • Being struck by falling objects (e.g., tree limbs)
      • Falls
    • Agriculture
      • Tractors
      • Skid steers or combines
      • Falls
      • Motor vehicle crashes
    • Construction
      • Falls from roofs
      • Falls from ladders or scaffolds
      • Motor vehicle crashes
      • Being struck by objects such as dirt from a trench collapse, vehicles, or falling debris
    • Manufacturing
      • Machines, such as being caught in a press
      • Being struck by objects
      • Falls
      • Suicides
    • Retail
      • Homicides
    • Transportation
      • Motor vehicle crashes
      • Being struck by an object (such as a truck driver struck by a truck trailer and pinned against a dock wall)
      • Homicides

    For more information, visit MSU OEM: Annual Reports.

  • Every work-related death has specific prevention opportunities.5 For example, keeping vehicles in good working order, not driving while distracted or drowsy, not driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving a safe speed, and properly securing loads can help prevent motor vehicle crashes. Fatal falls can be prevented by using the appropriate personal protective equipment when working on roofs or in trees or when elevated by equipment, inspecting equipment to be used (e.g., ladders, forklifts), and using the equipment correctly. Work-related homicides can be prevented through staff training and good store layout (e.g., lighting, cameras, drop safes, bulletproof barriers).

    Preventing a work-related fatality takes more than just a safety checklist; employers must make sure that safe work practices become a core part of a company's culture. A comprehensive, proactive, and collaborative safety and health management system is one of the most effective ways to find and fix workplace hazards before employees are injured or become ill.

    A successful Safety and Health Management System has the following pieces in place6:

    • Managers committed to making the program work. 
    • Employee involvement in safety teams.
    • A system to identify and control hazards.
    • Compliance with safety and health regulations.
    • Training on safe work practices.
    • Mutual respect, caring and open communication in a culture of safety.
    • Continuous evaluation and improvement of the program.

    For more information, visit MSU OEM: Work Related Fatalities.

  • Work-related Deaths MiTracking Indicators

    • Number of deaths by:
      • 5-year periods.
      • Age at time of death.
      • Gender.
      • Industry in which the individual had worked.
      • Incident type (e.g., electrocution, struck by motor vehicle).
      • The county in which the fatal injury occurred.

    MiTracking Work-related Deaths Data Can Tell Us

    • At the statewide level, the number of work-related deaths by age, gender, industry, and incident type in a 5-year time period.
    • At the county level, the number of work-related deaths by age, gender, and incident type in a 5-year time period.

    MiTracking Work-related Deaths Data Cannot Tell Us

    • If an employer had a safety and health management system in place.
    • If safety procedures were in place.
    • Whether the individual had followed safety procedures.

    Find Out More

    The Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (MIFACE) program utilizes multiple sources to identify work-related fatalities in Michigan: the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), death certificates, newspapers, medical examiners, police/fire/emergency medical technician (EMT) departments, Workers' Compensation Agency, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, Michigan Farm Bureau, Federal Agencies (Mine Safety and Health Administration [MSHA], National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB]), internet searches, and Michigan citizens reporting a work-related death.

    For more data information, visit:

    • About These Data (found on the data portal after a query search).
    • Metadata (Technical information about the content, quality, and context of the data).
  • Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

    Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA)

    Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine Division (MSU OEM)

    Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (MIFACE) Program Resources

    Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses: Information and Data

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

    Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

    Job Hazard Analysis Guide (OSHA 3071 - 2002)

    Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs

    Safety and Health Management Program Guidelines

    Contact Information

    Contact the MSU OEM at for more information.

    1. Baker EL. Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR): the concept. Am J Public Health. 1989;79 Suppl:18-20. doi:10.2105/ajph.79.suppl.18
    2. Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act, Chapter 408 (1974). Accessed September 23, 2022.
    3. Marsh SM, Menéndez CC, Baron SL, Steege AL, Myers JR; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fatal work-related injuries - United States, 2005-2009. MMWR Suppl. 2013;62(3):41-45. Accessed September 23, 2022.
    4. Michigan State University. Tracking work-related deaths in Michigan: 2018 annual report. Accessed September 23, 2022.
    5. Michigan State University. Work related fatalities: Michigan fatality assessment and control evaluation. Accessed September 23, 2022.
    6. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). Recommended practices for safety and health programs. Accessed September 23, 2022.