BLS: Lost-Days Injuries Rate Declined in 2005

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses that required time away from work in 2005 declined by 4 percent.

Although the number of lost-days injuries and illnesses in 2005 – 1.2 million – remained relatively unchanged from 2004, according to BLS, a 2 percent increase in the number of hours worked in 2005 contributed to the decline in the rate.

OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. said that the decline "complements the overall decrease in the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses" in 2005. In October, BLS' Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses for 2005 showed a decline from the previous year in the overall rate of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Foulke emphasized that despite the encouraging news, the agency will not rest on its laurels and will continue to pursue its strategies of compliance assistance, partnerships and enforcement to continuously reduce the rate.

"We remain encouraged by this news while, at the same, ever mindful that much work remains to further reduce workplace injuries and illnesses," Foulke said. "From this data, we will be able to gain important insights on how best to continue positioning and enhancing our services to employers and their employees."

Strains and Sprains Continue to Be Prevalent

According to BLS, there were 135.7 of these injuries and illnesses per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers in private industry. The agency notes that declines occurred in both the goods-producing (4.9 percent) and service-producing (3.4 percent) industries.

As in previous years, more than 4 out of 10 injuries and illnesses were sprains or strains, most involving overexertion or falls on the same level.

More than a third of the sprains and strains occurred in the trade, transportation and utilities industry. Three occupational sectors – laborers and freight movers; heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; and nursing aides, orderlies and attendants – accounted for 20 percent of all strains and sprains.

Some other key findings:

  • The incidence rate for carpal tunnel syndrome decreased by nearly 14 percent.
  • The trunk – the part of the body most affected by work incidents – accounted for 35 percent of all cases. Overall injuries to the trunk decreased by 4 percent from 2004. Of these injuries or illnesses to the trunk, those involving the back accounted for 63 percent.
  • Floors, walkways and ground surfaces accounted for 19 percent of all sources of injury or illness. Worker motion or position accounted for 15 percent.
  • Assaults and violent acts (by a person), almost two-thirds of which occurred in health care and social assistance, decreased by 18 percent.
  • Injuries and illnesses due to repetitive motion decreased by 10 percent.
  • Falls from a ladder increased by almost 10 percent.
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