Non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers in 2006 occurred at a rate of 4.4 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers — a decline from 4.6 cases in 2005. Similarly, the number of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2006 declined to 4.1 million cases, compared to 4.2 million cases in 2005. These findings were reported October 16 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Key findings of the 2006 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII):

  • The total recordable case (TRC) injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers in 2006 was the lowest since the SOII was first conducted in 1972.
  • Incidence rates and numbers of cases for injuries and illnesses combined declined significantly in 2006 for most case types, with the exception of cases involving job transfer or restriction only.
  • The number and incidence rate of injuries both declined significantly in 2006 compared to 2005 — 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
  • The number and incidence rate of illnesses declined significantly in 2006 compared to 2005 — mainly the result of declines among hearing loss and all other illness categories.
  • Estimates were tabulated for more than 70 additional industries in 2006 for which estimates were not previously available (see table A); industries are classified according to the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
  • TRC rates declined among nine of the 19 private industry NAICS sectors in 2006 and remained statistically unchanged in the remaining 10 NAICS sectors.
  • The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate was highest among mid-size establishments (those employing between 50 and 249 workers) and lowest among small establishments (those employing fewer than 11 workers) compared to establishments of other sizes.
  • TRC rates in 10 of 43 states (including the District of Columbia) for which SOII estimates are available were lower in 2006 compared to a year earlier; TRC rates in 32 states remained relatively unchanged; and the TRC rate in one state was higher in 2006.  

 

The rate decline for non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers in 2006 resulted from a two percent increase in the number of hours worked and a three percent decrease in the number of non-fatal injuries and illnesses. Similarly, for goods-producing industries as a whole and for service-providing industries as a whole the number of hours worked rose 2 percent while the number of cases declined 3 percent. This resulted in rate declines for total recordable injuries and illnesses in both of these industries in 2006 — falling 0.3 cases and 0.2 cases per 100 full-time workers, respectively, compared to rates reported in 2005. Goods-producing industries as a whole reported a higher incidence of injuries and illnesses than did service-providing industries — 5.9 vs. 3.9 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, respectively.  

 

Mining experienced the lowest incidence rate in 2006 among goods-producing industry sectors — 3.5 cases per 100 full-time workers. In comparison, while higher than the rate for mining, rates for agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (6.0 cases), construction (5.9 cases), and manufacturing (6.0 cases) were not significantly different from one another. Although the rate for the transportation and warehousing sector fell by one-half case in 2006, this sector reported the highest rate among service-providing industry sectors — 6.5 cases per 100 full-time workers. Rates among the remaining service-providing sectors ranged from 0.9 cases in finance and insurance to 5.8 cases per 100 full-time workers in health care and social assistance.

 

Small establishments (those employing 1 to 10 workers) reported the lowest rate for injuries and illnesses combined (1.9 cases per 100 full-time workers), while mid-size establishments (those employing 50 to 249 workers) reported the highest rate (5.5 cases per 100 full-time workers). While the incidence rate remained relatively unchanged for small establishments employing fewer than 11 workers, the rates for establishments in all other size classes declined significantly in 2006 compared to 2005.

 

Fourteen industries, each having at least 100,000 injuries and illnesses combined, accounted for more than 1.8 million cases (45 percent) of the 4.1 million total. General medical and surgical hospitals (NAICS 6221) reported more injuries and illnesses than any other industry in 2006 — more than 264,300 cases.  

 

Approximately 2.1 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 2.0 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 2.3 cases per 100 workers, and the rate for other recordable cases was 2.1. Both of these rates decreased in 2006 by 0.1 case per 100 equivalent full-time workers compared to 2005.

 

Cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction comprise 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. Cases with job transfer or restriction 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 1.3 cases per 100 workers (down from 1.4 cases in 2005) and the rate for cases with job transfer or restriction was 1.0 case per 100 workers (unchanged from 2005). The rate in manufacturing for cases with job transfer or restriction (1.9) was higher than the rate for days-away-from-work cases (1.4). This is the ninth consecutive year in which this has been the case in manufacturing. 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, with the exception of wholesale trade; management of companies and enterprises; and arts, entertainment, and recreation in which these rates were not significantly different from one another.

 

Injuries and Illnesses
Injuries: Of the 4.1 million non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2006, approximately 3.9 million (94.4 percent) were injuries. Of these 3.9 million injuries, 2.6 million (67.6 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 (32.4 percent) occurred in goods-producing industries, which accounted for 21 percent of 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 (20.1 percent), the health care and social assistance sector (16.3 percent), and the retail trade sector (14.8 percent).

 

Illnesses: Although workplace illnesses accounted for fewer than 6 percent of the 4.1 million injury and illness cases, private industry employers reported 14,500 fewer illness cases in 2006 — down to 228,000 cases compared to 242,500 in 2005. This resulted in a decline in the rate of total recordable illnesses in 2006 from 26.7 to 24.6 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. Although goods-producing industries accounted for approximately 43 percent of illness cases, these industries accounted for more than three-quarters of the decline in illness cases. The manufacturing sector accounted for 36 percent of all cases of occupational illnesses and reported nearly 12,000 fewer illnesses in 2006. Consequently, both the number and rate of illnesses declined significantly for goods-producing industries as a whole in 2006, while remaining relatively unchanged among service-providing industries as a whole.

 

The “All other illnesses” category accounted for nearly 62 percent of total illness cases in 2006, compared to approximately 63 percent in 2005. The number of cases and the incidence rate for “Hearing loss” and for “All other illnesses” in private industry declined in 2006, while the remaining categories of illness remained relatively unchanged. Hearing loss accounted for approximately 11 percent of all illnesses in 2006, relatively unchanged from 2005.

 

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).

 

Selected Industry Sectors at a Glance

Manufacturing: While the rate of total recordable injury and illness cases in manufacturing declined significantly in 2006 — from 6.3 to 6.0 cases per 100 full-time workers — this industry sector accounted for more than 1 in 5 injury and illness cases reported in private industry in 2006, but comprised less than 13 percent of total employment. More than half the cases in manufacturing (55 percent) resulted in days away from work, job transfer or restriction (DART). Of these DART cases, more than 57 percent were job transfer or restriction cases, resulting in a rate of job transfer or restriction (1.9 cases per 100 full-time workers) higher than the rate for cases involving days away from work (1.4 cases). Manufacturing accounted for 36 percent of all private industry illness cases. Although the rate of illnesses in manufacturing declined significantly in 2006 — from 66.1 to 57.7 cases per 10,000 full-time workers — the illness rate for this sector remained more than two times higher than that of the national average (24.6 cases).

 

Construction: Similar to private industry, incidence rates for all case types with the exception of cases with job transfer or restriction were lower in construction in 2006 than in 2005. These declines resulted from a six percent increase in hours worked while the number of cases of all types remained statistically unchanged. The total recordable case (TRC) rate in construction declined from 6.3 to 5.9 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2006. This decline was split evenly among cases with days away from work, job transfer or restriction (DART) and other recordable cases — both falling by 0.2 cases in 2006 to 3.2 and 2.7 cases per 100 full-time workers, respectively. Specialty trade contractors (NAICS 238) accounted for the majority of both employment (63.7 percent) and injury and illness cases (67.5 percent) and reported the highest TRC rate (6.3 cases per 100 full-time workers) among the three 3-digit NAICS industries within construction. Estimates within Utility system construction (NAICS 2371) were tabulated at more detailed levels than were previously available for the Survey’s NAICS-based estimates.

 

Transportation and warehousing: The number of injury and illness cases and the rate at which they occurred decreased significantly in this industry sector in 2006, with the TRC rate falling from 7.0 to 6.5 cases per 100 full-time workers. However, transportation and warehousing reported the highest rate among service-providing industry sectors. Estimates have been tabulated at more detailed levels for several industries in this sector in 2006 than was the case in the past.

 

Utilities: A 12 percent decrease in the number of injury and illness cases reported among establishments in this sector resulted in a decline in the TRC rate from 4.6 to 4.1 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2006. Among the three 4-digit NAICS industries in this sector, only water, sewage, and other systems (NAICS 2213) experienced a significant decline in the TRC rate, falling from 7.6 to 5.2 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2006. Estimates for electric power generation (NAICS 221110) have been tabulated in 2006 at the more detailed 6-digit level to distinguish differences that may exist among the different types of electric power generation.

 

Health care and social assistance: The number of industries for which estimates were tabulated in this sector was greatly expanded in 2006. The number of injuries and illnesses and the rate at which they occurred in 2006 remained relatively unchanged in this sector. Three of the 14 industries reporting 100,000 or more cases in 2006 are in this sector — General medical and surgical hospitals (NAICS 6221), Ambulatory health care services (NAICS 621), and Nursing care facilities (NAICS 6231). General medical and surgical hospitals accounted for nearly 4 in 10 cases in this industry sector and reported more cases than any other single industry for which estimates were tabulated in 2006. This sector accounted for more than 1 in 5 illness cases reported among private industry establishments in 2006, including more than 36 percent of respiratory illnesses. The rate at which respiratory illnesses occurred in this sector was nearly three times that of private industry — 5.5 vs. 1.9 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. More than half of these respiratory illnesses were reported in hospitals (NAICS 622) where the number of reported respiratory illnesses rose nearly 20 percent and whose rate increased from 8.0 to 9.6 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

 

Leisure and hospitality: This aggregate combines two NAICS sectors — Arts, entertainment, and recreation and Accommodation and food services. While the number of injury and illness cases and the rate at which they occurred declined in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector in 2006 — the rate falling from 6.1 to 5.3 cases per 100-full-time workers — they remained relatively unchanged for accommodation and food services. Nearly 7 in 10 injury and illnesses cases reported in arts, entertainment, and recreation occurred in amusement, gambling, and recreation establishments (NAICS 713). The number of industries for which estimates were tabulated in these sectors was significantly expanded in 2006.