The latest statistics on workplace injuries and illnesses contain good news for U.S. workers and their employers, particularly in these challenging economic times.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers declined in 2010 to 3.5 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers from 3.6 in 2009. That equates to 3.1 million injuries and illnesses last year, compared to 3.3 million in 2009. (For information on fatal workplace injuries in 2010, click here and here.)
The good news for workers is obvious: More are going home at the end of the workday the way they arrived at their jobs.
There’s additional good news though: These improving safety numbers are saving U.S. businesses a significant amount of cash.
The total direct and indirect costs associated with injuries and illnesses each year are estimated to be $155.5 billion, or nearly 3% of gross domestic product. Reduce the number of injuries, and you reduce this significant cost to business.
The costs of injuries are borne by injured workers and their families, by all other workers through lower wages, by companies through lower profits, and by consumers through higher prices.
Breaking down the stats
Here are some other key findings from this year’s BLS report:
- The incidence rates for cases with days away from work, job transfer and restriction remained unchanged from 2009, at 1.8 cases per 100 full-time workers.
- Manufacturing was the only private industry sector to see an increase in injuries, rising to 4.4 cases from 4.3.
- The total recordable cases rate in construction decreased from 4.3 to 4.0.
- The total recordable cases rate was highest in 2010 among mid-size companies (those with 50 to 249 employees) and lowest among small firms (those employing fewer than 11 workers).
- 75.8% of injuries and illnesses occurred in service industries which employed 82.4% of the total private industry workforce.