BLS Releases 2007 Workplace Injury and Illness Rates

The rate of workplace injuries and illnesses in private industry declined in 2007 for the sixth consecutive year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses fell from 4.4 cases per 100 workers in 2006 to 4.2 cases in 2007.

The number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2007 declined to 4 million cases, compared to 4.1 million cases in 2006. The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers has declined significantly – by 0.2 cases per 100 workers – each year since 2003, when estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) were first published using the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

“The 21 percent decline in the workplace injury and illness rate over the past 6 years and a 4.5 percent decline over the past year show the effectiveness of the strategy of targeted enforcement coupled with prevention through compliance assistance to promote a culture of safety at the workplace,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.

Key findings of the 2007 SOII include:

  • The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate in 2007 was the lowest among private industry employers since 2002, when recordkeeping requirements were revised. The decline is similar to that seen from 1972 to 2001, prior to the recordkeeping revisions.
  • Both the incidence rate and the number of injuries alone declined significantly in 2007 compared to 2006 – 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
  • Incidence rates and numbers of cases for injuries and illnesses combined declined significantly in 2007 for several case types: total recordable cases; cases with days away from work, job transfer or restriction; cases with days away from work; and cases with job transfer or restriction.
  • The incidence rate and the number of illnesses alone each declined significantly in 2007 compared to 2006, mainly the result of declines among skin diseases and disorders and all other illness categories, which accounted for 89 percent of the decline in illness cases.
  • The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rates declined among five of the 19 private industry sectors: agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; mining; construction; manufacturing; and health care and social assistance. The remaining 14 industry sectors were statistically unchanged.
  • Manufacturing was the only industry sector over the decade spanning 1998 to 2007 in which the rate of job transfer or restriction cases exceeded the rate of cases with days away from work.
  • The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate was highest among mid-size establishments (those employing between 50 and 249 workers) and lowest among small establishments (those employing fewer than 11 workers) compared to establishments of other sizes.

“Today’s injury and illness results demonstrate that OSHA’s balanced approach to workplace safety encompassing education, training, information sharing, inspection, regulation and aggressive enforcement is achieving significant reductions in workplace injury and illness throughout the country,” said OSHA Administrator Edwin G. Foulke Jr. “This report shows that employees are now safer in the workplace than ever before. This success validates our efforts, and we are redoubling this commitment to make workplaces even safer.”

This BLS release follows the August 2008 report on workplace fatalities from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. A third release in November will provide case and demographic details from the SOII for cases requiring at least one day away from work to recuperate.

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