BLS: Lost-Days Injuries Continue to Decline in 2006

According to the 2006 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Nov. 8, there has been a 6 percent decrease in the rate of lost time occupational injuries and illnesses and a 4 percent reduction in the overall number of those injuries and illnesses from 2005 to 2006.

The survey, which was the third of a series of three releases from the BLS covering occupational safety and health statistics in 2006, covers the circumstances of the injuries and illnesses and the characteristics of the workers involved in the 1.2 million nonfatal cases that required days away from work to recuperate.

The 2006 rate was 128 per 10,000 workers, a decrease of 6 percent from 2005. There were 1.2 million cases requiring days away from work in private industry, which represented a decrease of 51,180 cases (or 4 percent). Median days away from work – a key measure of the severity of the injury or illness – was 7 days in 2006, the same as the prior two years.

Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao called the lost-time decreases “significant improvements.” She also said the Department of Labor will continue working to make sure that the number of occupational injuries and illnesses continue to go down year after year.

“...We will not rest on this positive news; we will continue to work to ensure the safety and health of the nation’s employees through compliance assistance; partnerships and cooperative programs; and strong, fair, and effective enforcement,” she said.

Sprains and Strains “Leading Nature of Injury” in All Industries

According to the survey, sprains and strains were the leading nature of injury and illness in every major
industry sector. These injuries decreased by 6 percent for total private industry in 2006 and for both goods-producing and service-providing industries. Trade, transportation and utilities reported 157,380 sprains and strains, 33 percent of the total.

The survey also pointed out that the part of the body most affected by work incidents is the trunk (including the shoulder and back), accounting for 34 percent of all cases. Injuries and illnesses to the back made up 62 percent of the days-away-from-work cases involving the trunk. Additionally, the survey revealed that floors, walkways and ground surfaces were the source of injury or illness for 18 percent of all days-away-from-work cases.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants had 49,480 days-away-from-work cases and a rate of 526 per 10,000 workers, which was more than four times the total for all occupations.
  • Three other occupations with more than 40,000 cases had rates above 400 per 10,000 workers: construction laborers (488); laborers and freight, stock and material movers (466); and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (411). Men had a days-away-from-work rate of 143 per 10,000 workers; the rate for women was 106 per 10,000 workers.
  • Four out of ten days away from work cases were sprains or strains. Approximately one in five of these were suffered by laborers and freight, stock and material movers; heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; and nursing aides, orderlies and attendants.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 30 percent of the injuries and illnesses with days away from work, the same percentage as in 2005.
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