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April 08, 2013
Federal injury figures seriously flawed, study suggests

A new report raises significant concerns about the federal government’s system for tracking work-related injuries. The report was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and conducted by Michigan State University (MSU) and the Michigan Department of Community Health.

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It found that the number of amputations following worksite accidents in Michigan was nearly two-and-a-half times higher than the official estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

By analyzing hospital records and workers’ compensation data, researchers determined that there were 616 work-related amputations in 2008. The federal estimate of 250 amputations was based on surveys that collect data from a sample of Michigan employers.

The discrepancy suggests that the BLS should not rely solely on a sample of employers to report injuries or ignore medical information, says Kenneth Rosenman, chief of MSU’s Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“If your numbers are not accurate on how much of a problem there is, how do you know where to deploy your resources, or judge if any of your programs are successful in addressing the problem?” he wondered.

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