For second year in a row, COVID is the leading cause of work-related deaths in WA

For the second straight year, COVID-19 was the leading cause of work-related deaths in Washington, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries.

The number of COVID work-related deaths accounted for one-quarter of the 106 workers who died in 2021. 

The Department of Labor & Industries say records show that 26 people passed away in 2021 after contracting COVID-19 while working in hospitals, prisons, manufacturing jobs, or other workplaces. Another 15 workers died following long battles with other occupational illnesses.

In 2021, the number of COVID-19 deaths increased, while the overall number of workplace fatalities declined by 13 from the previous year, when there were 119 workplace deaths, according to L&I. 

"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 Joel Sacks, L&I director. "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."

Construction was the most dangerous industry, claiming 22 lives. The number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes tripled, from seven to 21, according to L&I. 

The Department of Labor and Industries honored all 106 workers killed on the job during its annual Worker Memorial Day on April 28. Those honored were healthcare workers, corrections officers, mechanics, orchard workers, police officers, and more, ages 19 to 84.