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Annual U.S. Labor Injury Report Shows Downward Trends Continuing

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According to the 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses released recently by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), last year continued a generally downward trend in the incidence of many kinds of workplace injuries.

Some of the key findings of the survey include:

-The total recordable cases (TRC) incidence rate of injury and illness reported by private industry employers declined in 2013 from 2012. The incidence rate for more serious cases – those requiring days away from work, job transfer or restriction known as DART cases – also declined to 1.7 from 1.8, a figure that had held steady from 2009 through 2012. The TRC injury and illness incidence rate stayed highest in 2013 among privately held businesses of medium size, defined as those employing between 50 and 249 workers. The TRC rate was lowest among small establishments – those that employ fewer than 11 people.

-Manufacturing in 2013 continued a 16-year trend as the only sector of private industry in which the rate of job transfer- or restriction-only cases was more than the rate of cases with days away from work. The rates for these two case types declined by 0.1 case in 2013 to 1.2 cases and 1.0 case per 100 full-time workers, respectively.

-Private industry employers reported slightly more than 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2013. The incidence rate was 3.3 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, down from 3.4 in 2011 and 2012. The rate has declined each of the last 11 years, except for 2012.

-The incidence rate of injuries only among private industry workers declined to 3.1 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013, down from 3.2 cases per 100 in 2012. The incidence rate of illness cases was statistically unchanged in between those years.

-The rate of reported injuries and illnesses declined in 2013 in manufacturing, retail, and utilities, but was statistically unchanged among all other private industry sectors compared to 2012. Nearly 2.9 million (94.9 percent) of the more than 3.0 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2013 were injuries. Among them, over 2.1 million (75.5 percent) happened in service-providing industries, which employed 82.4 percent of the private industry workforce. The remaining approximately 700,000 injuries (24.5 percent) happened in goods-producing industries, which represented 17.6 percent of private industry employment in 2013.

While the news overall is encouraging, as always, the fact that many of these statistics exist at all also points to areas where there is room for improvement.

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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