The rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the U.S. dropped in 2015 by the greatest amount since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That continues a downward trend that, with the exception of 2012, has happened over the past 13 years.
According to data released recently by the BLS, employers in private industry reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses last year. That is a decline of about 48,000 from 2014, even though there was an increase in total hours worked. The rate of cases recorded in 2015 was 3.0 per 100 full-time workers – down from 3.2 the previous year. That makes it the lowest recorded case rate since at 2002, when OSHA recordkeeping requirements were modified. In 2003, the rate was 5.0. It fell below 4.0 for the first time in 2008 when the rate reached 3.9.The last time the rate dropped by more than 0.1 was in 2009, when it fell from 3.9 in 2008 to 3.6.
The decline in total recordable cases resulted largely by decreases in two categories: those involving days away from work and other recordable cases. The rate for cases of job transfer or restriction held steady.
Six of 19 private industry sectors reported a decline in injuries:
-mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
-transportation and warehousing
-finance and insurance
-health care and social assistance, and
-accommodation and food services.
Some other highlights from the report:
-The only sector in the report to show an increase was wholesale trade. The other dozen sectors stayed flat.
-Over half of the 2.9 million injuries involved days away from work, job restriction or transfer (DART).
-The injury rate was highest among mid-size companies (50-249 employees) and lowest among the smallest employers (fewer than 11 employees).
-About three of four injuries occurred in service industries.
-Of the 41 states for which state rates are available, rates declined in nine and remained steady in 32 and the District of Columbia.
Four states registered injury rates above a 4.0:
-Washington: 4.4, and
Two state showed rates below 2.0:
-Washington, DC: 1.6, and
"We are encouraged to see the significant decline in worker injury and illness rates,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. “This is the result of the relentless efforts of employers, unions, worker advocates, occupational safety and health professionals, and federal and state government agencies ensuring that worker safety and health remains a top priority every day.
"Despite the decline, approximately 2.9 million private sector workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illnesses last year. That is still far too many. At OSHA, we will continue to do all that we can to continue driving the rate down."
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's workforce by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
This is the first of three annual BLS workplace injury reports released in the fall. In November, BLS will release a report on nonfatal injuries with days away from work. In December, the agency will release its annual report on fatal injuries.