Monday Roundup: We're Taking Fewer Sick Days

According to a new U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illness Requiring Days Away from Work in 2006, both the rate and the number of occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work has decreased six percent from 2005.

The six percent decrease in 2006 translates to 128 per 10,000 workers. Also, there were 1.2 million cases requiring days away from work in private industry, a decrease of 51,180 cases (or 4 percent). Median days away from work remained the same from the previous two years at 7 days.

In a public statement, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao praised the reduction but was quick to stress that the news would not result in complacency. "The U.S. Department of Labor's programs to keep America's working men and women safe and healthy are achieving the desired results--more men and women are going home safe and whole at the end of the workday," she said. "However, we will not rest on this positive news; we will continue to work to ensure the safety and health of the nation's employees through compliance assistance; partnerships and cooperative programs; and strong, fair, and effective enforcement."

The third in a series of three releases from BLS covering occupational safety and health statistics in 2006, this report's data is now divided by occupation, gender, and age group for cases with days away from work.

Some items worth noting in the report are:

  • Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants had 49,480 days away from work cases and a rate of 526 per 10,000 workers, which was more than four times the total for all occupations.
  • Three other occupations with more than 40,000 cases had rates above 400 per 10,000 workers: construction laborers, 488; laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, 466; and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, 411.
  • Men had a days-away-from-work rate of 143 per 10,000 workers; the rate for women was 106 per 10,000 workers.
  • Four out of ten days away from work cases were sprains or strains. Approximately one in five of these were suffered by laborers; freight, stock, and material movers; heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; nursing aides; orderlies; and attendants.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 30 percent of the injuries and illnesses with days away from work, the same percentage as in 2005.

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