Characterizing occupational heat-related mortality in the United States, 2000-2010: an analysis using the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries database

Am J Ind Med. 2015 Feb;58(2):203-11. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22381.


Background: Occupational heat-related mortality is not well studied and risk factors remain largely unknown. This paper describes the epidemiological characteristics of heat-related deaths among workers in the US 2000-2010.

Methods: Fatality data were obtained at the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the confidential on-site Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries database. Fatality rates and risk ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated by year, sex, age group, ethnicity, race, state, and industry.

Results: Between 2000 and 2010, 359 occupational heat-related deaths were identified in the U.S., for a yearly average fatality rate of 0.22 per 1 million workers. Highest rates were found among Hispanics, men, the agriculture and construction industries, the state of Mississippi, and very small establishments.

Conclusions: This study provides the first comprehensive national profile of heat-related deaths in the U.S. workplace. Prevention efforts should be directed at small businesses and at industries and individuals with the highest risk.

Keywords: climate change; health and safety; heat exposure; occupational health; workplace.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Censuses
  • Databases, Factual
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Heat Stress Disorders / mortality*
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult