Non-fatal workplace injuries/illnesses dropped in 2005

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

Non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred at a rate of 4.6 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers among private industry employers in 2005, according to the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was a decline from the rate of 4.8 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers reported by the BLS for 2004. The rate resulted from a total of 4.2 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses in private industry workplaces during 2005, relatively unchanged compared to 2004, and a 2 percent increase in the number of hours worked. Incidence rates for injuries and illnesses combined declined significantly in 2005 for most case types, with the exception of cases with days away from work.

     

This release is the second in a series of three releases from the BLS covering occupational safety and health statistics in 2005. The first release, in August 2006, covered work-related fatalities from the 2005 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. In November 2006, a third release will provide details from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses on the more seriously injured and ill workers and on the circumstances of their injuries and illnesses.  “More seriously” is defined in this survey as cases requiring at least one day away from work to recuperate. 

     

Goods-producing industries as a whole had an injury and illness incidence rate of 6.2 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, while service-providing industries had a rate of 4.1 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers. The incidence rate for goods-producing industries declined by 0.3 cases and the rate for service-providing industries fell by 0.1 case per 100 equivalent full-time workers compared to the rates reported for 2004. Among goods-producing industry sectors, incidence rates during 2005 ranged from 3.6 cases per 100 full-time workers in mining to 6.3 cases per 100 full-time workers in construction and in manufacturing.

 

While rates among service-providing industry sectors ranged up to 7.0 cases per 100 full-time workers in transportation and warehousing, finance and insurance had the lowest rate within this domain at 1.0 case. Despite this low rate, finance and insurance was the only industry sector to experience a statistically significant increase in the overall incidence rate in 2005, rising by 0.1 case per 100 full-time workers.

     

Small establishments (those employing 1 to 10 workers) reported the lowest rate for injuries and illnesses combined (2.0 cases per 100 full-time workers), while mid-size establishments (those employing 50 to 249 workers) reported the highest rate (5.8 cases per 100 full-time workers). While incidence rates remained relatively unchanged for establishments employing fewer than 1,000 workers, the rate for large establishments (those employing 1,000 or more workers) declined significantly in 2005 to 5.2 cases per 100 full-time workers, down from 5.4 in 2004. 

     

Fourteen industries, each having at least 100,000 injuries and illnesses combined, accounted for slightly more than 1.9 million cases (46 percent) of the 4.2 million total. These same 14 industries also reported having at least 100,000 injuries and illnesses in both of the previous two years. Hospitals (NAICS 622) has topped this group of industries in each of the last three years, followed by nursing and residential care facilities (NAICS 623).

 

(NAICS is the North American Industry Classification System, which the Survey began using in 2003 as the means of classifying businesses by the type of activity in which they are primarily engaged.)  

       

Approximately 2.2 million injuries and illnesses were cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction; that is, they required recuperation away from work, transfer to another job, restricted duties at work, or a combination of these actions. The remaining 2 million injuries and illnesses were other recordable cases that did not result in time away from work. The incidence rate for cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction was 2.4 cases per 100 workers, and the rate for other recordable cases was 2.2. Both of these rates decreased by 0.1 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers from 2004. 

     

Cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction are comprised of two case types; those requiring at least one day away from work, with or without job transfer or restriction, and those requiring only job transfer or restriction. The latter case type may involve shortened work hours, a temporary job change, or temporary restrictions on a worker’s regular duties; for example, no heavy lifting. Separately, the rate for cases with days away from work was 1.4 cases per 100 workers (unchanged from 2004) and the rate for cases with job transfer or restriction was 1.0 case per 100 workers (down from 1.1 cases in 2004). The rate in manufacturing for cases with job transfer or restriction (2.0) was higher than the rate for days-away-from-work cases (1.5). Among the remaining industry sectors included in this chart, the rate for cases with days away from work was higher than the rate for cases with job transfer or restriction.

 

Injuries and Illnesses

Injuries: Of the 4.2 million non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2005, approximately 4 million (94.2 percent) were injuries. Of these 4 million injuries, 2.7 million (68 percent) occurred in service-providing industries which employed 79 percent of the private sector workforce covered by this survey. The remaining 1.3 million injuries (32 percent) occurred in goods-producing industries which accounted for only 21 percent of the private sector employment. (Employment data are derived primarily from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.)  The largest shares of injuries were in the manufacturing sector (20 percent), the health care and social assistance sector (16 percent), and the retail trade sector (15 percent).

     

Illnesses: Workplace illnesses accounted for fewer than 6 percent of the 4.2 million injury and illness cases in 2005, unchanged from 2004. There were 242,500 newly reported cases of occupational illnesses in private industry in 2005, relatively unchanged from the 249,000 cases in 2004. Service-providing industries accounted for approximately 55 percent of these cases, while goods-producing industries accounted for 45 percent. The manufacturing sector accounted for nearly 39 percent of all newly reported cases of occupational illnesses. The “All other illnesses” category accounted for 63 percent of total illness cases in 2005, compared to over 65 percent in 2004. Both the number of cases and the incidence rate of “All other illnesses” in private industry experienced a statistically significant declined in 2005, while the remaining categories of illness remained relatively unchanged. Beginning with the 2004 calendar year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) included “Hearing loss” as a separate illness category.  Hearing loss accounted for 11 percent of all illnesses in 2005, relatively unchanged from 2004. Prior to 2004, hearing loss cases were included in the “All other illnesses” category.

     

The survey measures the number of new work-related illness cases that are recognized, diagnosed, and reported during the year. Some conditions (for example, long-term latent illnesses caused by exposure to carcinogens) often are difficult to relate to the workplace and are not adequately recognized and reported. These long-term latent illnesses are believed to be understated in the survey’s illness measures. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of the reported new illnesses are those that are easier to directly relate to workplace activity (for example, contact dermatitis or carpal tunnel syndrome).

     

Industry Sectors at a Glance
Mining: Estimates for this industry sector include data obtained from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, as well as data for oil and gas extraction (NAICS 211) and related support activities collected as part of this survey. The incidence rate of injuries and illnesses in this industry sector (3.6 cases per 100 full-time workers) was significantly lower than that of private industry in 2005. The number of injury and illness cases, as well as the incidence rate in this sector, remained relatively unchanged compared to 2004.  However, the incidence rate for cases that involved days of job transfer or restriction rose significantly in 2005 to 0.8 cases per 100 full-time workers, compared to 0.6 cases in 2004.    

 

Manufacturing: More than 1 in 5 injury and illnesses cases reported in private industry, and nearly 2 in 5 illnesses, occurred in manufacturing in 2005, although this industry accounted for only about 13 percent of private sector employment.  While the incidence rate of injuries and illnesses for this sector (6.3 cases per 100 workers) declined by 0.3 cases compared to 2004, the rate remained significantly higher than that of overall private industry in 2005. Three manufacturing industries were among the 14 private sector industries reporting 100,000 or more cases in 2005. Transportation equipment manufacturing (NAICS 336) with 146,800 cases, fabricated metal product manufacturing (NAICS 332) with 121,800 cases, and food manufacturing (NAICS 311) with 114,200 cases, accounted for nearly 43 percent of all cases reported in manufacturing, but only one-third of manufacturing employment in 2005. The injury and illness rate for each of these industries was significantly higher than that for the manufacturing sector as a whole. Among these three industries, only the rate for food manufacturing changed significantly in 2005, falling by 0.5 cases to 7.7 cases per 100 full-time workers.

 

Utilities: This sector comprises establishments that provide electric power, natural gas, water and sewage removal. This relatively small industry sector accounted for only about one-half of one percent of private industry employment and injury and illness cases in 2005. The injury and illness incidence rate for utilities (4.6 cases per 100 full-time workers) was not significantly different from the previous year; however, the number of cases reported in the industry did decline significantly in 2005. Incidence rates for industries in this sector ranged from 4.0 cases per 100 workers in electric power generation, transmission, and distribution (NAICS 2211) to 7.6 cases for water, sewage and other systems (NAICS 2213).


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