Federal OSHA collected a total of 70,206 severe injury reports (SIRs) from employers it covers from 2015 to 2021, according to a new report by the agency.
SIRs are submitted by employers when an employee suffers severe injuries or illnesses in the workplace resulting in hospitalization, amputation or eye loss. OSHA began collecting SIRs in January 2015.
During the same period, OSHA received 56,696 inpatient hospitalization SIRs and 18,559 amputation SIRs. Many of the amputations were so severe that they required inpatient hospitalization, according to the report. A total of 5,049 reported amputations also required inpatient hospitalization. However, the two different SIRs are “counted as one despite being categorized separately” in the report.
While eye losses are required to be reported, there were no SIRs for eye loss submitted during the period the report covers.
By year, the average number of SIRs per day was:
- 27 in 2015
- 28 in 2016
- 29 in 2017
- 31 in 2018
- 30 in 2019
- 24 in 2020, and
- 24 in 2021.
The 20% decrease in SIRs from 2019 to 2020 was likely due to workplace shutdowns and other changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to OSHA.
“Because the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses standard (29 CFR 1904.39) only requires employers to report inpatient hospitalizations that occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident that caused the inpatient hospitalization, and the mean incubation period for SARS-CoV-2 ranges from 3-6 days from exposure to onset, COVID-19 hospitalizations were generally not required to be reported,” the report states.
Manufacturing tops in rates, hospitalizations and amputations
Manufacturing had the highest SIR rate with 26.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. Construction and Transportation/Warehousing came in at second and third at 25 and 16.2, respectively.
For inpatient hospitalization SIRs, the manufacturing industry had the highest number again with 27% followed by the construction industry at 19.9%. Transportation and warehousing was third with 9.8%.
Manufacturing also had the highest number of amputation SIRs by a large margin with 55.2%. The category labeled as “other” – which includes a variety of different industries from agriculture and education to finance and entertainment – was a distant second with 11.3%. Construction had the third highest total with 10.5%.
Texas submitted most SIRs, North Dakota had highest rate
Out of the states that federal OSHA covered during the period, Texas employers submitted the most SIRs with 11,543 coming from the Lone Star State. Florida was second with 7,411 and Pennsylvania was third with 5,575.
When it comes to individual states’ SIR rates, North Dakota led with 21.9 per 100,000 FTE workers per year. Arkansas had the second highest rate with 17.8. Alabama was a close third with 17.4.
Upper extremities were most affected body part
Out of the SIRs for all industries, the upper extremities were the most affected body part by far with a total of 28,357 reported. The majority of those SIRs came from manufacturing with 14,000 reported by that industry. Construction was second with 3,646 SIRs regarding the upper extremities. Retail trade was third with 1,615.
The lower extremities came in second with 14,254 SIRs, with the manufacturing industry leading again with 3,365 of those. Construction had 2,601. Transportation/warehousing had 1,892.
There were 9,227 SIRs regarding the trunk, with that body part being the third most affected. Manufacturing had the highest total with 1,932. Construction and retail trade were second and third with 1,823 and 944, respectively.
Report highlights heat illness, warehouse-related injuries
Law firm Manko Gold Katcher & Fox pointed out that OSHA’s report contains two highlighted sections related specifically to heat illnesses and warehouse-related injuries.
“OSHA specifically highlighted SIRs from hazardous heat,” the law firm said, pointing to the agency’s recent attention on the subject with an ongoing National Emphasis Program and a standard in the works.
“From 2015 to 2021, OSHA received 1,743 heat-related SIRs, with Texas and Florida having the highest proportion of heat-related illness,” according to the law firm.
Likewise, the agency highlighted warehouse-related SIRs “another recent focus of OSHA, having established a National Emphasis Program on Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations in July of this year. From 2015 to 2021, OSHA received 1,336 SIRs, many of which involved a body part being caught between a vehicle (such as a forklift) and an object.”