New data show mixed results when it comes to reducing workplace injuries and illnesses. The overall numbers are down, but there was little or no decrease in the last year in more serious injury cases.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2014 was 3.2 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers (total recordable cases, or TRC). In 2013, the rate was 3.3. The rate has declined each of the last 12 years with the exception of 2012 when it stayed steady.
The days away from work, job transfer or restriction case rate stayed the same at 1.7 (these involve more serious injuries). Other recordable cases declined from 1.6 to 1.5.
The only private industries to have a decline in TRC in 2014 were retail, health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services.
The TRC rate remained highest among mid-size private industry companies (employing 50 to 249 workers) at a rate of 3.9, and lowest among small companies (fewer than 11 workers) at 1.5.
Most injuries (75%) occurred in service industries, with 25% in good-producing industries.
Good-producing industries accounted for 35.6% of all occupational illnesses in 2014.
Several industries racked up TRC rates above the national average of 3.2:
- State and local government: 5.0
- Education and health services: 4.2
- Manufacturing: 4.0
- Natural resources and mining: 3.8
- Construction: 3.6
- Trade, transportation and utilities: 3.6, and
- Leisure and hospitality: 3.6.
Among states for which statistics are available for 2014, the private industry TRC rate declined in 10 states and was relatively unchanged in 31 states and the District of Columbia compared to 2013. The TRC rate was higher in 19 states than the 3.2 national average, lower in 14 states and the District of Columbia, and about the same as the national rate in 8 states. Factors such as the number of workers employed in various industries affect state rates.
“Too many workers are still being injured or sickened on the job,” said OSHA chief David Michaels, regarding the BLS report. “We must redouble our efforts to make sure that employers provide workers with the protections and training they deserve.”