Nonfatal Work-Related Injuries, Illnesses Continued to Fall in 2008
Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses continued to decline in 2008, according to recently issued data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The report found that nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses among private industry employers occurred at a rate of 3.9 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers -- a decline from 4.2 cases in 2007. Overall, nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2008 declined to 3.7 million cases, compared to 4 million cases in 2007. The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers has declined significantly each year since 2003 when estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses were first published using the 2002 North American Industry Classification System.
Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hailed the findings. However, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said employers shouldn't take the positive news as a reason to let their guard down.
"While I am cautiously optimistic that these decreases in injury and illness rates represent change in the right direction, they do not lessen the need for strong enforcement to ensure that safety is a top priority in every workplace," she said.
Among the key findings of the report, BLS researchers found that:
- Incidence rates declined significantly for almost all case types. Researchers said incidence rates for injuries and illnesses combined among private industry establishments declined significantly in 2008 for all case types with the exception of job transfer or restriction cases whose rate remained unchanged from 2007. The number of cases of injuries and illnesses combined declined significantly in 2008 for all case types.
For injuries only, both the incidence rate and number of cases in private industry establishments declined significantly in 2008 compared to 2007 -- each falling 8 percent from the year earlier. With regard to illnesses, both the incidence rate and the number of cases declined significantly in 2008 compared to 2007. Researchers said this was mainly the result of a decline among the "all other illnesses" category, which accounted for nearly 84 percent of the decline in illness cases among private industry employers.
- Service-providing industries recorded the majority of injuries. Approximately 3.5 million (94.9 percent) of the 3.7 million nonfatal occupational incidents in 2008 were injuries -- of which 2.5 million (71.2 percent) occurred in service-providing industries. The remaining 1 million injuries (28.8 percent) occurred in goods-producing industries.
- Incidence rate was highest among midsize employers. The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate was highest in 2008 among midsize companies -- those employing between 50 and 249 workers -- and lowest among small establishments -- those employing fewer than 11 workers.
- More than 50 percent of cases required days away from work, transfers or job restrictions. Slightly more than one-half of the 3.7 million private industry injury and illnesses cases were of a more serious nature that involved days away from work, job transfer or restriction -- commonly referred to as DART cases. These occurred at a rate of two cases per 100 workers, declining from 2.1 cases in 2007. Manufacturing was the only private industry sector in 2008 in which the rate of job transfer or restriction cases exceeded the rate of cases with days away from work, continuing an 11-year trend.
- Public sector injuries and illnesses occurred at higher rate than in private industry. Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among state and local government workers occurred at a higher rate (6.3 cases per 100 full-time workers) than among private industry workers in 2008. Nearly 940,000 injury and illness cases were reported among state and local government workers combined in 2008, resulting in a rate of 6.3 cases per 100 workers -- significantly higher than the rate among private industry workers (3.9 cases per 100 workers). Approximately four out of five injuries and illnesses reported in the public sector occurred among local government workers, resulting in an injury and illness rate of seven cases per 100 workers -- significantly higher than the 4.7 cases per 100 workers in state government.
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January 4, 2010
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