Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI): Definitions

Definition of Traumatic Injury

A traumatic injury is defined as any wound or damage to the body resulting from acute exposure to energy, such as heat, electricity, or impact from a crash or fall, or from the absence of such essentials as heat or oxygen, caused by a specific event or incident within a single workday or shift. Included are open wounds, intracranial and internal injuries, heatstroke, hypothermia, asphyxiation, acute poisonings resulting from short-term exposures limited to the worker's shift, suicides and homicides, and work injuries listed as underlying or contributory causes of death. Heart attacks and strokes are considered illnesses and therefore excluded from CFOI unless a traumatic injury contributed to the death.

Work Relationship Criteria

A work relationship exists if an event or exposure results in the fatal injury or illness of a person:

(1) ON the employer's premises and the person was there to work; or

(2) OFF the employer's premises and the person was there to work, or the event or exposure was related to the person's work or status as an employee.

The employer's premises include buildings, grounds, parking lots, and other facilities and property used in the conduct of business. Work is defined as duties, activities, or tasks that produce a product or result; that are done in exchange for money, goods, services, profit, or benefit; and, that are legal activities in the United States.

The following are clarifications of the CFOI work relationship criteria.

  • Volunteer workers: Fatalities to volunteer workers who are exposed to the same work hazards and perform the same duties or functions as paid employees and that meet the CFOI work relationship criteria are IN scope.
  • Institutionalized persons: Fatalities to institutionalized persons, including inmates of penal and mental institutions, sanitariums, and homes for the aged, infirm and needy, are OUT of scope unless they are employed off the premises of their institutions.
  • Suicides and homicides that meet the CFOI work relationship criteria are IN scope.
  • Recreational activities: Fatal events or exposures that occurred during a person's recreational activities, that were not required by the person's employer, are OUT of scope.
  • Travel status: Fatal events or exposures that occurred when a person was in travel status are IN scope if the travel was for work purposes or was a condition of employment. The exclusion pertaining to recreational activities also applies to a person in travel status.
  • Commuting: Fatal events or exposures that occurred during a person's commute to or from work are OUT of scope, unless the incident occurred on the employer's premises.
  • Off-duty police: Homicides occurring to off-duty police officers are generally IN scope. Other fatalities to off-duty police are in scope if they are performing a police-related function, such as directing traffic at the scene of an accident or rescuing someone from a fire.
  • Undocumented workers: Fatalities to undocumented workers are IN scope provided they meet the other work-relationship criteria.

Last modified: July 1, 2008