"But we cannot ignore those three million workers," OSHA

Three Million Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in 2013: BLS

OSHA's Dr. David Michaels said the declining rates are encouraging, “even during this period of healthy economic growth when we would expect the rate of injuries to rise.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Dec. 4 that slightly more than 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2013, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.3 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. This rate continues the pattern of statistically significant declines that, with the exception of 2012, have occurred annually for the last 11 years.

Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, issued a statement about the 2013 survey's results: "Today we learned that, in 2013, approximately three million private sector workers in America experienced a serious injury or illness on the job. In this extraordinarily high number, it is easy to focus on the headline and miss the trend line. We are encouraged that the rates continue to decline over the past few years, even during this period of healthy economic growth when we would expect the rate of injuries to rise. The decrease in the injury rate is a product of tireless work by those employers, unions, worker advocates and occupational safety and health professionals all coupled with the efforts of federal and state government organizations that make worker safety and health a high priority each and every day.

"But we cannot ignore those three million workers. The severity of their injuries and illnesses varies widely; some are amputees, some suffer back injuries, while others have to struggle for each breath. Work injuries can instantly pull the rug out from a family striving for a good middle-class life. This is why the work of the Labor Department is so vital, and why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with our partners in both the public and private sector, will maintain our commitment to ensuring that everyone can work in a safe, healthy place."

Key findings from the survey include:

  • The total recordable cases incidence rate of injury and illness reported by private industry employers declined in 2013 from a year earlier, as did the rate for cases of a more serious nature involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction--the first decline in the DART rate since 2009.
  • The rate of reported injuries and illnesses declined significantly in 2013 among the manufacturing, retail trade, and utilities sectors but was statistically unchanged among all other private industry sectors.
  • Manufacturing continued a 16-year trend as the only private industry sector in which the rate of job transfer or restriction only cases exceeded 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.
  • The rate of injuries and illnesses among state and local government workers combined declined to 5.2 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013 compared to 5.6 cases in 2012 and remains significantly higher than the private industry rate.

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