New Jersey: Workplace Injuries Below National Rate

New Jersey officials welcomed the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on workplace injuries and illnesses, as the statistics show that New Jersey's injury and illness rate is below the national rate.

Private-sector workers in New Jersey sustained job-related injuries and illnesses at a rate of 3.8 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2004, compared to the national rate of 4.8, according to the latest BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

New Jersey's 2004 injury and illness rate of 3.8 was down from 4.2 in 2003. There were a total of 102,500 cases reported in 2004, compared with 113,500 cases in 2003.

BLS and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) have been working together for 12 years to produce the state's estimates of occupational injuries and illnesses, according to LWD Commissioner A.J. Sabath. The 2004 survey collected data from 9,102 public and private employer units in the state.

"The working men and women of New Jersey deserve to know that when they go to their jobs that they will be able to return safe and sound to their communities and their families," Sabath said.

Small Employers Had Lowest Rate

Consistent with the findings from previous surveys, small, private-sector employers with 10 or fewer workers had the lowest incidence rate (1.1), while private-sector establishments with between 50 and 249 workers experienced the highest incidence rate (5.3).

New Jersey's private-sector incidence rate for cases with days away from work, job transfer or restriction totaled 2.1 per 100 cases in 2004, a decline of 0.2 from the 2.3 cases in 2003.

The rate for other recordable cases was 1.7, down from 1.9 in 2003. As in previous years, these rates remain well below national rates of 2.5 and 2.3, respectively, for 2004.

Occupational Illnesses Down in 2004

For 2004, there were 4,100 reported occupational illnesses in New Jersey's private sector for an incidence rate of 15 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. In 2003, there were 5,600 reported occupational illnesses in the private sector for an incidence rate of 20.8.

For 2004, skin diseases or disorders had a rate of 3.1, while the category of "all other illnesses" (which includes heatstroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, welding flash, HIV, malignant or benign tumors) reported a rate of 8.8, down from 11.7 in 2003.

Public Sector: Injury and Illness Rate Down Slightly

In New Jersey's public sector, the incidence rate for state government workers of 7.5 per 100 workers was down from 7.6 computed in 2003.

According to the survey, 8,500 injuries and illnesses were reported during 2004, down 100 cases from 2003.

The rate of cases with days away from work for state government was 3.7 in 2004, compared with 4.2 in 2003, while the incidence rate for cases with job transfer or restriction was 0.6 per 100 full-time workers, down from 0.7 in 2003.

Major industry sectors in state government that experienced high incidence rates for 2004 were health care and social assistance and utilities, reporting 16.1 and 9.6, respectively.

For cases with days away from work, the health care and social assistance sector had the highest rate of 7.2, while transportation and warehousing ranked second with a rate of 6.2 for calendar year 2004.

Local government, which includes county and municipal paid workers as well as volunteer firefighters, had a 2004 total injury and illness incidence rate of 8.9, improving from 9.4 in 2003.

The rate for cases with days away from work for local government workers was 3.6, down from 3.9 in 2003.

Local government reported 2,000 cases with job transfer or restriction; 2,400 were reported in 2003.

A total of 24,700 local government cases were reported during 2004, which is 2,700 fewer than were reported in 2003.

Arts/Entertainment/Recreation Workers Had Highest Rate

Arts/entertainment/recreation workers in New Jersey experienced the highest incidence of injuries and illnesses at 15.8, while utilities ranked second with an incidence rate of 14.0.

For cases with days away from work, the utilities sector reported a rate of 5.5 per 100 full-time workers down from 6.1 in 2003. The public administration sector ranked second with a rate of 5.2, dropping from 5.7 in 2003.

State Will Spend Nearly $2 Million on Safety

Sabath said LWD is working through its Health and Safety Consultation Service to educate, encourage and assist employers and workers to make health and safety a jobsite priority.

"We also have made a strong commitment in training resources and partnerships to help employers and workers develop safer, healthier workplaces," Sabath said. "This fiscal year we will commit almost $2 million to workplace safety initiatives. We also are encouraging employers who qualify for customized training grants to include safety as part of the training provided to their workers."

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