Lost time injuries, musculoskeletal disorders decline in '07, study finds
According to the agency, the total number of injuries and illnesses with days away from work declined 11.9 percent from 2003 to 2007. In addition, the rate of MSDs fell 9 percent from 2006 to 2007. The latest report is the last in a series of three releases from the BLS covering occupational safety and health statistics in 2007. The new study follows earlier reports on workplace fatalities and overall injury and illness rates.
Thomas Stohler, acting assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said these numbers demonstrate that the agency's comprehensive strategy of targeted enforcement, coupled with an emphasis on prevention through compliance assistance, is most effective.
"These injury and illness results demonstrate that OSHA's balanced approach to workplace safety is working," he said. "It's an approach that encompasses education, training, information sharing, inspection, regulation and aggressive enforcement that are helping achieve significant reductions in workplace injuries and illnesses."
Stohler noted that OSHA's efforts reducing workplace injuries and illnesses have included cooperative efforts, such as voluntary protection programs, that have helped many companies experience 50 percent fewer lost workday injuries. In addition, these companies have injury and illness rates that are roughly 53 percent below their industry's average and reduced workers' compensation costs, he said.
About the findings. According to the study, there were 1.2 million cases requiring days away from work in private industry out of 4 million total recordable cases as reported by the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. The number of days-away-from-work cases in 2007 decreased by 24,630 cases -- or 2 percent -- as compared to 2006 levels. Median days away from work -- a key measure of the severity of the injury or illness -- was seven days in 2007, the same as the previous three years.
Among the findings of the study, researchers found that:
--Falling MSD rates are having an impact.
In 2007, MSDs with days away from work declined by 23,400 cases from 2006. The decrease in the number of MSDs is the largest factor contributing to the overall decline in days-away-from-work cases in 2007, researchers said.
--Sprains and strains make up bulk of injuries.
Sprains and strains were the most frequent nature of injuries and illnesses, according to the study. However, the number of cases has decreased 6 percent from 2006, compared to a 2 percent decline for all injuries.
--Overexertion injuries continue to decline. Cases with days away from work due to overexertion decreased by 7 percent. Researchers said this continues the sequence of decreases in this event for the last five years.
--Carpal tunnel syndrome cases drop in several industries.
The number of cases of carpal tunnel syndrome decreased in 2007 by 1,070 to a total of 11,940 cases. The number of carpal tunnel cases in the goods-producing industries decreased to 4,510 cases. Among carpal tunnel cases in goods-producing industries, there was a decrease of 610 cases in the construction industry to a total of 280 cases. The number of these cases in manufacturing decreased by 880 cases to a total of 4,170 cases.
--Shoulder and back injuries remain prevalent.
The part of the body most often affected by work injuries was the trunk -- including the shoulders and back -- accounting for 33 percent of all injuries and illnesses. However, cases involving the trunk decreased by 4 percent from 2006.
--Material handlers see highest rate of lost time injuries. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers experienced the highest number of days-away-from-work cases with 79,000 in 2007, a 7 percent decline from 85,120 in 2006.
December 1, 2008
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