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November 13, 2013
BLS announces downward trend in nonfatal work-related injuries

This week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses continues to inch downward, but private industry employers still experienced nearly 3 million nonfatal incidents. Keep reading for details, including news about one occupation with injury and illness rates nearly twice that of other jobs.

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The latest data, for 2012, continue a pattern of declines that has taken place annually for the last decade, with the exception of 2011. Work-related fatalities are on the decline as well, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, for which the BLS released preliminary 2012 data in August.

Among key findings from the 2012 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses:

  • The occupational injury and illness rate among nursing home employees (nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants) was 7.3 cases per 100 full-time workers, nearly twice the overall rate of 3.4. At state-run nursing homes, the rate was more than 13.
  • No private industry sector experienced an increase in its rate of injuries and illnesses in 2012.
  • The rate for state and local government workers—5.6 cases per 100 workers—was basically unchanged from 2011, but still significantly higher than for private sector workers.
  • In the private sector, the injury rate was highest among mid-size private industry establishments (50 to 249 workers) and lowest among small establishments (11 or fewer workers), with respective injury and illness rates of 4.3 and 1.7 per 100 full-time workers.

Despite the continued improvement in the incident rate, OSHA administrator David Michaels expressed dissatisfaction. “Three million injuries are three million too many,” he commented.

Michaels believes a rule proposed earlier this month to require electronic filing of injury data for some employers will provide better access to information and, ultimately, lead to fewer injuries.

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