Keeping an Eye on Workplace Injuries and Illness

Work place safety.
Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway

An important part of staying current on employment law is analyzing the annual release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We now have the latest numbers for 2012 and the news overall is good. The total rate of workplace injuries and illnesses is down by a small but statistically significant amount.

In 2012, there were nearly three million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries reported by private industry employers. The BLS reported that “no private industry experienced an increase in the rate of injuries and illnesses in 2012.” What is significant and worrisome is that more than half of the nearly three million injury and illness cases were of a serious nature and involved days away from work, transfer, or restriction.

The difference in rates between injury and illness is huge. More than 94.8 percent of 30 million total incidents are classified “injuries,” while only 5.2 percent are reported as workplace illness. Workplace injuries can lead to legal action where the victim seeks help from an employment attorney.

The report highlights risks related to specific industries:

  • Among service-providing industry sectors, transportation and warehousing had the highest rate of injuries and illnesses
  • Workers experienced sprains and strains in transportation and warehousing at a rate 2.5 times the rate for all industries
  • Transportation incidents occurred at a rate more than 5 times the rate for all industries
  • The mining industry had the highest median days away from work, at 21 days

Staying abreast of these statistics helps government and regulatory bodies to spot trends or risk factors for workers. For employment attorneys, it helps to identify areas of concern for clients and areas where employers or industry organizations may be falling short.

 

Sources:

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf

https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/work.html

http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/work-related-injuries-illnesses-and-fatalities-in-manufacturing-and-construction.pdf

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