On-the-job restaurant deaths rose 22% in 2022, government data show

Nearly a quarter of the year's 524 workplace homicide victims were serving customers or tending a retail establishment, the figures indicate.
workplace deaths
123 restaurant workers died on the job, the BLS found. | Photo: Shutterstock

Workplaces became significantly more dangerous in the U.S. during 2022 and restaurants were no exception, with on-the-job deaths among kitchen staffers and other employees jumping 22%, according to just-released statistics from the federal government.

While the absolute tally of 123 restaurant fatalities was a minute percentage of the more than 12 million people who worked in foodservice, the figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show a marked upsweep from pre-COVID 2019 when 99 restaurant workers lost their lives while on the clock.

Homicides in particular became more of a danger. Across all industries, on-the-job murders rose 9%, to 524. A large majority of those (435, or 82.8%) were fatal shootings.

Of that tally of homicides, 24.6% involved employees who were waiting on customers or tending to a retail establishment.

BLS also noted a sharp upswing in workplace suicides (13.1%) and unintentional drug overdoses (also 13.1%) but did not break out the figures for foodservice employees.

Overall, BLS found that 5,486 U.S. workers were killed while on the job last year, a 5.7% rise from 2021. Violent deaths increased by 11.6%.

The numbers translate into a worker dying every 96 minutes in 2022, compared with a fatality every 101 minutes the year before.

The most common cause of death, BLS found were car crashes and other transportation accidents.

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