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April 14, 2014
BLS releases report on state and local government worker injuries

In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a report detailing the rates and characteristics of nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses among state and local government workers across the country. What are the risks facing public sector workers, and how can employers keep them safe? Keep reading to find out.

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While findings vary from state to state, overall, the report shows that state and local government workers experienced a higher injury and illness rate than their private sector counterparts. State and local government workers made up 14.6 percent of the employees covered in the BLS’s 2011 survey data, but accounted for 21.6 percent of the injury and illness cases that year. According to the BLS, the difference was driven primarily by local government workers, who made up 10.8 percent of the employees in the survey but 16.8 percent of the injury and illness cases.

Below are some of the report’s key findings on the causes and types of workplace injuries in state and local government.

State government

  • State government workers experienced 4.6 nonfatal injury and illness cases per 100 workers in 100—higher than the private industry rate of 3.5 but lower than that of local government workers.
  • Similarly, state government workers’ rate of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work (1.8 cases per 100 full-time workers) was higher than that for private industry (1.1 cases).
  • For state workers, workplace violence is of particular concern: it was responsible for 23.4 percent of cases resulting in days away from work, compared to 11.8 percent among local government workers and just 3.7 percent in private industry. The BLS hypothesized that the greater prevalence of workplace violence among state government workers may be due to a higher concentration of state government workers in occupations that experienced high rates of violence, such as psychiatric aides.

Local government

  • With 6.1 recordable injury and illness cases per 100 full-time workers, local government experienced nearly twice the nonfatal injury and illness rate of private sector employees.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 of the nonfatal injury and illness cases among local government workers occurred among elementary and secondary school workers, resulting in an incidence rate of 5.0 cases per 100 full-time workers in this industry.
  • In the fire prevention and police protection fields, although the number of cases was much smaller, the injury and illness rates were the highest of any local government industry, at 13.5 and 11.3 cases per 100 full-time workers, respectively
  • Fire protection workers in local government were over 4 times more likely than all government workers to suffer a workplace injury or illness requiring days away from work, and twice as likely to experience respiratory illnesses.

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