New York Workers’ Compensation Stats That Will Surprise You

  • Published May 16, 2022

New York state is home to the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, Broadway, and the Big Apple, but it also has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the leading places for injuries at work (nearly 150,000 claims were filed and 223 New York workers lost their lives in 2020 alone.)

Fortunately, workers and businesses have the New York workers’ compensation system. It protects employees and lets hard-working business owners sleep better at night, knowing they’re taking care of their teams and protecting themselves from lawsuits that could close their company for good.

What Are the Key Things to Know About Workers’ Comp Insurance In NY?

The fight for New York workers’ compensation insurance started in New York in 1910 when a workers’ compensation law was passed and enacted. Unfortunately, legal challenges kept it from becoming actually useful until 1914. The devastating 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire played a role in getting New York workers’ compensation to happen. In that fire, 146 workers were killed, and they were mostly women and children. Some jumped to their deaths to escape the fire, in some cases clutching their wages—which would have been the only benefit available to their surviving families. It shouldn’t have had to come to that to get protections for workers, but history sometimes works that way.

Today, companies in New York that have even one employee who qualifies for workers’ compensation coverage must buy insurance for all eligible employees. Business owners pay for the insurance and if anyone is injured in their job duties, they get paid medical and wage benefits as well as other benefits. It doesn’t matter who is at fault in the accident. The money gets paid out as long as the employee and incident qualify under the workers’ compensation claims rules. This system may not be perfect (no system is), but it makes a big difference to businesses and workers.

What Are Some New York Workers’ Compensation Statistics I Should Know?

New York sees a lot of claims, but if there’s one good thing about the recent pandemic, it did lead to fewer injuries. In 2020, 148,751 claims were filed with the workers’ compensation board in New York, a big drop from the 173,771 filed in 2017.

The types of injuries that lead to workers’ compensation claims vary widely. Working at a factory producing flammable materials is likely to lead to more — and more serious — injuries than working at the library, but every workplace can result in injury, including:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Contusions
  • Lacerations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Back injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Repetitive use injuries
  • Eye Injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Head Injuries
  • Burns
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Heart Attacks
  • Disfigurement
  • Amputation
  • Poisoning and toxic materials exposure
  • Strokes
  • Neck injuries
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • MRSA infections
  • Paralysis
  • Trauma and mental health conditions
  • Tendon injuries
  • Nerve injuries

No matter what kind of injury happens on the job, workers are supposed to be covered by workers’ compensation in most cases. Even if they work for a tiny company. Even if they work for a non-profit. Businesses that don’t pay for coverage can face big fines and penalties if they fail to stay compliant with their state’s insurance rules.

How Could Work Injury Statistics in New York Impact Your Company’s Industry?

You might expect mining, factory jobs, or work involving open flame to have the highest number of injuries leading to workers’ compensation claims.


Education and health in New York had the most employee-related injuries, with over 57,900 injuries in 2020 alone. Second up was trade, transport, and utilities, with 29,400 injuries in 2020. Third and fourth on the list are manufacturing and construction, with 9,000 and 6,700 employer-reported injuries in 2020, respectively. In total, 129,000 injuries and illnesses were reported in private industry in New York in 2020.

What Do Demographics and Work Injury Statistics in New York Say About Your Team’s Risk?

So who is getting seriously injured at work? It was reported that 81 men suffered fatal work-related deaths in New York in 2019, compared to only 10 women. About 28 of these fatal injuries affected workers between 55 to 64 years, the most of any age range. The safest age to be at work? 20 to 24 years. Only five workers in that age group suffered fatal work-related deaths in New York in 2019, the lowest of any age category.

Workers of color and those in marginalized groups especially need workers’ compensation insurance, because they face barriers to workplace safety. A report specifically looking at construction site work accidents found that 74% of fatal workplace falls in New York City involved either an immigrant or Latino worker.

In Queens specifically, 88% of fatal construction site falls involved a Latino or immigrant worker. This is especially jarring since the majority of construction workers in the state (59.8%) are white. The report found that non-white workers were more likely to work for non-union, smaller companies and do not have adequate protection from OSHA and similar bodies. Obviously, we need to do better.

How Much Time Could Your Workers Miss Because of an Injury or Illness?

A total of 70,000,000 hours were lost at work due to worker injury in 2019 across the country. Nationally, workers lost a median of 8 days of work for injuries in 2015, the last year for which BLS (the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) numbers are available. In some industries, the number of days lost was much higher, such as in mining, where workers lost a median of 29 days of work. Men lost a median of 10 days at work, compared with a median of 7 days for women.

New Yorkers may be more likely to lose time at work after an injury, too. Nationally, between 2010 and 2012, 58% of work injuries required at least one day away from work, where the injury was so severe even light duty was not an option. In that same time, a whopping 90% of injured New York workers required at least one day away from work.

And if the productivity loss seems heavy, consider this: the average cost per injury is an eye-watering $44,776 in New York, meaning workplaces without insurance could face not only fines but also potentially business-closing lawsuits.

In 2019, about 5.6% of workers were initially denied the workers’ comp applications in New York. This is considerably lower than the double-digit numbers decades before. And about 9 in 10 injured New York workers got their first wage benefit amount within 18 days of the injury or within 10 days of the employer being told about the injury.

How Can Workers’ Compensation Claims Statistics In New York Help Your Company?

If you’ve been wondering whether workers’ comp in New York is important or whether you really need to spend time on it, you have your answer: YES. Even if no one has been injured at your business yet, sadly there’s a good chance at some point someone will be. And when that happens, having the right coverage protects both you and your employee.

But there’s good news. When it comes to workers’ comp insurance, New York has a champion of small business: Cerity. We’re faster and more affordable than other providers, meaning you can get your team protected and get back to business literally in minutes. No waiting. No runaround.

And if you’re a small business, we hear you. We’ve created instant online quotes and policies as low as $20 per month, meaning you could be covered for the price of an extra-large pizza. We’re serious about helping smaller companies, minority-owned companies, and companies that are working hard.

That’s why at Cerity we offer expert assistance and flexible payments to make taking care of your team easier on you. You pay only for what you need, and there’s no long-term commitment required. And our licensed experts are there to help. To get a free quote online, visit our workers’ comp quote tool or you can reach out to us to talk to us about workers’ comp for your business.

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The information provided is intended to provide a general overview. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Cerity® makes no warranties for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information provided, and will not be responsible for any actions taken based on the information contained herein. If you have legal questions or need legal advice, please consult an attorney.