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November 15, 2019
Number of injuries in 2018 unchanged, BLS says

The number and rate of workplace injuries in 2018 remain unchanged from 2017, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced.

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There were 2.8 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2018, unchanged from 2017, the BLS reported.

The incidence rate for total recordable cases (TRCs) in private industry—2.8 per 100 full-time workers—also remained unchanged from the previous year.

This is the first year since 2012 that the TRC rate did not decline. The incidence rates for days away from work (DAFW) cases and for days of job transfer and restriction only (DJTR) cases also did not change from 2017.

The data released are estimates from the BLS’s Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).

Highlights from the newly released SOII data include:

  • Retail trade was the only private industry sector in which the TRC rate increased in 2018, rising from 3.3 cases to 3.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers—the first increase in the TRC rate in retail trade since 2003. The retail trade accounted for 14 percent of all injuries and illnesses in private industry in 2018.
  • There were 900,380 injuries or illnesses that caused workers to miss at least 1 day of work in 2018, essentially unchanged from 2017.
  • A total of 333,830 DAFW cases resulted in a visit to a medical facility such as an emergency room (ER) or inpatient hospital.

This is the first year the BLS released estimates for medical treatment facility visits for nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring DAFW. Medical treatment facilities include facilities designated as an ER or inpatient hospital facility but not clinics, health units within the workplace, infirmaries, and urgent care facilities.

Of the 333,830 DAFW cases requiring a visit to a medical facility:

  • 294,750 required a trip to the ER but did not require hospitalization;
  • 39,080 cases required inpatient hospitalization, either with or without an ER visit;
  • The median number of days away from work for all private industry cases in 2018 was 8 days;
  • The median number of days away from work for ER-only visits was 7; and
  • The median number for inpatient hospitalization was 41 days.

ASSP called rate ‘unacceptable’

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) called the absence of a reduction in the incidence rate “unacceptable” and encouraged private sector employers to take steps to better protect their workers from injury and illness.

“Stagnant injury rates are unacceptable and a clear call to employers nationwide to take a harder look at their approach to workplace safety and health,” ASSP President Diana Stegall said in a statement.

The Association also called on employers to take a broader view of worker well-being, moving beyond traditional wellness initiatives and embracing initiatives like the Total Worker Health approach developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The ASSP also suggested employers address stagnant injury and illness rates by considering implementing a safety and health management system like the one detailed in its American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSP Z10.0-2019 standard.

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