COVID Still the Leading Cause of Work-Related Deaths in Washington


COVID-19 was responsible for around a quarter of the 106 work-related deaths reported in Washington in 2021, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries said this week.

The figure makes coronavirus the leading cause of work-related deaths in the state for the second year in a row. In 2021, 26 people died after contracting the coronavirus while in a workplace — an increase from 24 people in 2020.

While the number of coronavirus-related deaths increased, the number of total workplace deaths declined from 119 deaths in 2020.

In 2021, there were also:

  • 22 construction-related deaths
  • 16 transportation and warehousing-related deaths
  • 14 public safety-related deaths
  • 11 agriculture-related deaths, a decreased from 21 agriculture-related deaths from 2020
  • 10 worker deaths from falls

The number of deaths from vehicle collisions also tripled from seven in 2020 to 21 in last year.

The workers who died range in age from 19 to 84, and consist of health care workers, corrections officers, mechanics, orchard workers and police officers, according to Labor & Industries.

Labor & Industries will honor the lives of the workers at a virtual Worker Memorial Day ceremony on Thursday, which will be attended by Gov. Jay Inslee, representatives from other work groups and family members. Each name will be read aloud followed by the ringing of a bell.

"Even as we believe that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we find ourselves looking back on another year where COVID was the leading cause of job-related deaths," said Labor & Industries director Joel Sacks. "We will not forget those who lost their lives to COVID or other causes. We all need to do everything in our power to ensure every worker goes home safe at the end of the day."