Roofing is once again one of the top three deadliest civilian occupations, with workplace fatalities increasing by 7.8% in 2022, according to the latest data.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary,” which tracks the previous year’s fatal workplace injuries and their causes. According to the report, the total number of fatal injuries for roofing contractors was 124, an increase from 115 in 2021. Of those fatalities, 100 of the incidents, or 80.6%, were due to a fall, trip or slip.

The data differentiates specific sectors from the total mentioned above. Residential roofing contractors experienced 33 fatal injuries, a 6.5% increase from 2021. The data shows 27 of those deaths were caused by a fall, trip or slip – nearly 82%.

Nonresidential roofing contractors saw fewer incidents in 2022. Of the 19 fatal injuries that occurred — down from 28 in 2021 — nearly 79% (15) were falls, trips or slips.

Slightly different numbers emerge when viewing fatalities by occupation as opposed to industry. In this case, deaths have decreased by 8.6% for “roofers,” going from 115 in 2021 to 105 in 2022. Of those 105 deaths, 90 were the result of a fall, slip or trip (85.7%). This is a 6.25% decrease from 2021.

Although the occupational numbers are heading in the right direction, it’s done little to affect roofing’s status as one of the deadliest occupations in the U.S. The bureau calculates fatal work injury rates per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. In doing so, roofing has a fatal work injury rate of 57.5.

Despite being lower than last year’s rate of 59, it is the second-highest rate among all other civilian occupations, with logging workers having the largest rate at 100.7. Fish and hunting workers is the third deadliest occupation, with a rate of 50.9.

Nationally, the data shows workers in construction and extraction occupations had the second most fatalities (1,056) in 2022 compared to other occupation groups. Falls, slips, or trips caused 423 of these fatalities.

Work-related fatalities due to falls, slips, and trips increased throughout the nation by 1.8% in 2022, resulting in 865 fatalities, up from 850 in 2021. Most fatalities in this category (80.9%) were due to falls to lower levels, which had 700 fatalities in 2022, a 2.9% increase from 680 fatalities in the prior year. Falls were the most reported workplace safety violation for the 13th consecutive year in 2023.

Suicides increased 13.1% to 267 fatalities in 2022 nationally. This followed consecutive decreases in both 2020 and 2021. It’s an issue the roofing industry is not immune to, something National Roofing Contractors Association CEO McKay Daniels touched upon during an industry update at the 2023 Best of Success conference earlier this month.

“This is happening in our industry,” Daniels said. “We’re playing catchup, but we’re going to do it in a hurry and bend this curve down.”

Increases in Minority Fatalities

The BLS data shows grim trends for the largest minority groups in the U.S. Fatal injury rates increased for Black or African American workers and Hispanic or Latino workers, which totaled 734 and 1,248, respectively, in 2022. These are 12.4% and 10.4% increases, respectively, over the previous year’s totals. For comparison, white (non-Hispanic) workplace fatalities increased by 2% in 2022 (3,167), while Asian deaths decreased by 5% (169). 

For Hispanic and Latino workers, the 2022 total breaks down to 456 workplace deaths happening to “native-born” workers, while 792 deaths occurred to “foreign-born” workers.

Transportation incidents were the highest cause of fatalities within both groups, with 278 for Black or African American workers and 439 for Hispanic or Latino workers. The second highest cause of fatalities to Black or African American workers was injuries due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals (199), while for Hispanic or Latino workers, it was falls, slips, or trips (286).

The nationwide total of workplace fatalities in 2022 was 5,486, a 5.7% increase from 5,190 in 2021. This equates to a fatal workplace injury rate of 3.7 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, up from the previous year’s rate of 3.6. According to the BLS, this meant a worker died every 96 minutes from a work-related injury in 2022.

“Today’s announcement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of a 5.7% increase in fatal occupational injuries is a sobering reminder of the important work we must do, especially for Black and Hispanic workers who saw the largest increase in workplace fatalities,” said U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, Doug Parker, in a statement.