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Nonfatal Injuries, Illnesses Down from Previous Year

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Sometimes downward trends are a good thing. When they reflect a decrease in injuries, there’s little room for argument.

According to estimates released recently by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry employers reported approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. That’s nearly 48,500 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases than the year before. Specifically, the 2016 rate of total recordable cases (TRC) fell 0.1 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, adding to a pattern of declines that, with the exception of 2012, has continued since 2004.

Those numbers were based on the bureau’s annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

Four private industry sectors—construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and retail trade—showed what the BLS said were statistically significant reductions in the TRC rate of occupational injuries and illnesses in 2016.

Of those four sectors, only retail trade (at 122,390) and manufacturing (at 118,050) showed more than 100,000 days away from work (DAFW) cases. Of these two sectors, only manufacturing had a decrease in both the count and incidence rate for DAFW cases last year.

In all, the BLS reported there were 892,270 occupational injuries and illnesses in 2016 that led to days away from work in private industry, a slight change from the number reported for 2015. The overall private industry incidence rate for DAFW cases was 91.7 per 10,000 FTE workers in 2016. The median number of days away from work — a measure of the severity of such cases — was 8 in 2016, unchanged from 2015.

Finance and insurance was the only sector where the TRC rate of injuries and illnesses increased in 2016. However, the relatively low number of cases reported there yielded the lowest rate among all private industry sectors at 0.6 cases per 100 FTE workers.

Meanwhile, the TRC rate of work-related injuries and illnesses was unchanged among 14 other private industry sectors in 2016.

In manufacturing:
-19 percent (22,040) of the DAFW cases were the result of falls, slips, or trips in 2016, a drop of 1,470 cases from 2015 levels.
-Sprains, strains, or tears accounted for 30 percent (35,110) of the DAFW cases – a decrease of 2,480 cases from 2015. These cases occurred at a rate of 28.2 cases per 10,000 FTE workers in 2016, down from 30.3 cases in 2015.
-Cuts, lacerations, or punctures accounted for 13 percent (14,960) of the DAFW cases in manufacturing, a decrease of 720 cases from 2015.

Some of the other standouts from the 2016 survey:
-The rate of other recordable cases (ORC) declined by 0.1 cases, while rates for the case types days away restricted transferred (DART), days away from work (DAFW) and days of job transfer or restriction only (DJTR) — were unchanged from 2015. In fact, the rate of DJTR cases has stayed at 0.7 cases per 100 FTE workers since 2011.
-Nearly a third of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses were of a more serious nature and led to days away from work.
-Injuries and illnesses to production workers accounted for 64 percent (75,070 cases) of total DAFW cases in manufacturing in 2016, a decrease of 3,510 cases from 2015.
-Transportation and material moving workers’ injuries and illnesses accounted for 18 percent (21,100 cases) of the total DAFW cases in manufacturing – a decrease of 950 cases from 2015. This equated to an incidence rate of 17.7 cases per 10,000 FTE workers in 2016, down from a rate of 19.0 such cases in 2015.
-Other leading events or exposures in manufacturing in 2016 were contact with object or equipment (with 35.4 cases per 10,000 FTE workers) and overexertion and bodily reaction (with 34.1 cases). Both rates were essentially unchanged from 2015, however.

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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