The rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the U.S. has dropped in 2015 by the biggest amount since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The rate per 100 equivalent full-time workers dropped to 3.0 in 2015 from 3.2 in 2014. The last time the rate dropped by more than 0.1 was in 2009, when it dropped from 3.9 the previous year to 3.6.
There were about 2.9 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2015, nearly 48,000 fewer than the year before.
The decline in total recordable cases was driven by drops in two categories: cases involving days away from work and other recordable cases. The rate for cases of job transfer or restriction remained steady.
Six of 19 private industry sectors reported a decline in injuries:
- mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
- transportation and warehousing
- finance and insurance
- health care and social assistance, and
- accommodation and food services.
Wholesale trade was the only sector with an increase. The other dozen sectors were flat.
Over half of the 2.9 million injuries involved days away from work, job restriction or transfer (DART).
The injury rate was highest among mid-size companies (50-249 employees) and lowest among the smallest employers (fewer than 11 employees).
About 3 of 4 injuries occurred in service industries.
Of the 41 states for which state rates are available, rates declined in 9 and stayed steady in 32 and the District of Columbia.
Four states registered injury rates above a 4.0:
- Maine: 4.8
- Vermont: 4.6
- Washington: 4.4, and
- Montana: 4.3.
Two locales had rates below a 2.0:
- Washington, DC: 1.6, and
- Louisiana: 1.9.
The nonfatal injury rate has steadily declined every year but one (2012) for the last 13. In 2003, the rate was 5.0. It fell below 4.0 for the first time in 2008 when the rate reached 3.9.
“We are encouraged to see the significant decline in worker injury and illness rates,” said OSHA chief David Michaels. “Despite the decline, approximately 2.9 million private sector workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illnesses last year. That is still far too many.”
This is the first of three annual BLS workplace injury reports that are released in the fall. In November, BLS will release a report on nonfatal injuries with days away from work. In December, the annual report on fatal injuries will be released.