Both the rate and the number of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work decreased from 2006 to 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in a report released on March 31. The 2007 rate was 122 per 10,000 full-time workers, a decrease of 4 percent from 2006. There were 1.2 million cases requiring days away from work in private industry out of 4 million total recordable cases as reported by the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. The number of days-away-from-work cases in 2007 decreased by 24,630 cases, or 2 percent, as compared to 2006 levels. Median days away from work – a key measure of the severity of the injury or illness – was 7 days in 2007, the same as the prior three years.
Key findings for 2007:
· In 2007, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) with days away from work declined by 21,770 cases from 2006. The 2007 injury and illness incidence rate of 35 cases per 10,000 full-time workers for MSDs is 8 percent below the 2006 rate of 39 cases per 10,000 workers. The decrease in the number of MSDs is the largest factor contributing to the overall decline in days-away-from-work cases in 2007.
· Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants had 44,930 days-away-from-work cases and a rate of 465 cases per 10,000 workers, which is a 12 percent decrease in the rate compared to 2006.
· Laborers and freight, stock and material movers experienced the highest number of days-away-from-work cases, with 79,000 in 2007, a 7 percent decline from 85,120 in 2006.
· Cases with days away from work due to a fall on the same level increased by 10 percent from 2006 levels, driven by large increases in the number of cases in retail trade (up 4,280 cases, 19 percent) and health care and social assistance (up 3,360 cases, 11 percent).
Case characteristics provide detailed information on the circumstances of workplace injuries and illnesses that required one or more days away from work. The survey uses four case characteristics – nature, part of body, source, and event or exposure – to describe a workplace incident.
· Sprains and strains were the most frequent nature of injuries and illnesses; however, the number of cases has decreased 5 percent from 2006, compared to a 2 percent decline for all injuries.
· Cases with days away from work due to overexertion decreased by 7 percent to 264,930 cases. This continues the sequence of decreases in this event for the last five years.
· The number of cases of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) decreased in 2007 by 1,070 to a total of 11,940 cases. The number of CTS cases in the goods-producing industries decreased to 4,510 cases. Among CTS cases in goods-producing industries, there was a decrease of 610 cases in the construction industry to a total of 280 cases. The number of these cases in manufacturing decreased by 880 cases to a total of 4,170 cases.
· The part of the body most often affected by work injuries was the trunk (including the shoulder and back) accounting for 33 percent of all injuries and illnesses. Cases involving the trunk decreased by 4 percent from 2006.
· Floors, walkways and ground surfaces were the source of injury or illness for 20 percent of all days-away-from-work cases and increased by 7 percent from 2006 levels. These surfaces are frequently the source of injury when a person falls. The second most frequent source of injury or illness, accounting for 14 percent of the total workplace injuries and illnesses in 2007, was worker motion or position (typically associated with sprains and strains).
Injury and Illness Severity
The survey provides data on the length of the absences resulting from injuries and illnesses that require days away from work to recuperate. Median number of days away from work – the key survey measure of severity – designates the point at which half the cases involved more days and half involved fewer days.
The median number of days away from work for all cases was 7 days in 2007, unchanged since 2004. Twenty-six percent of all days-away-from-work cases resulted in 31 or more days away from work. Goods-producing industries had a median of 9 days, and service-providing industries had a median of 7 days.
Within industries, the mining sector had the highest median days away from work at 27, nearly four times the median for all private industry. Transportation and warehousing had a median days away from work of 14, double the national median.
The highest median days away from work were for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and light and delivery service truck drivers, each with 15 days, followed by carpenters and construction laborers with 10 days. These occupations had 0.1 percent or more of total cases.
Fractures continued to require the highest median days away from work (30 days) in all private industries, followed by carpal tunnel syndrome (28 days). Of all fractures, 48 percent were the result of a fall on the same level or a fall to lower level. Within goods-producing industries, fractures had the highest median days away from work as well (35 days), followed by carpal tunnel syndrome (28 days). Service-providing industries reversed this pattern, with carpal tunnel syndrome having the highest median days away from work (28 days) followed by fractures (27 days).
Injuries involving the shoulder took workers a median of 18 days to recuperate for all private industries. Half of the injuries to the shoulder were the result of overexertion. Workers in the goods-producing industries took a median of 26 days and those in service-providing industries required 15 days.
Injuries from repetitive motion continue to be the event with the highest median days away from work for all private industries (20 days) and service-providing industries (19 days), followed by falls to lower level (15 days for private industry, 12 days for service-providing industries). In goods-producing industries, falls to lower level required the highest median days away from work with 22 days, followed by repetitive motion (20 days).
As age increases, median days away from work increase. Workers age 65 and over experienced the longest absences from work with a median of 16 days, compared to four days away from work for workers age 16 to 24.
Worker characteristics include gender, age, race or ethnic origin, and length of service with the employer at the time of incident.
· Workers who were 20 to 24 years of age had the highest incidence rate at 134 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, a 6 percent decline from 2006. Workers 65 years old and older had the lowest rate at 96, a 9 percent decline from 2006. This compares to an overall decline of 4 percent for all cases.
· Men accounted for 64 percent of injuries and illnesses and had an incidence rate of 134 per 10,000 workers, 22 percent higher than the rate for women (105 per 10,000 workers). Men typically work in jobs and industries that have higher rates than women.
· The number of injuries and illnesses to Hispanic and White workers in construction and extraction occupations declined significantly in 2007 (23 percent and 10 percent respectively). The number of injuries and illnesses to Black workers in this occupation group increased by 7 percent to a total of 6,490 cases in 2007.
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers experienced the highest number of days-away-from-work injuries and illnesses, with 79,000 in 2007. This was a 7 percent decline from 85,120 in 2006. Following this occupation were heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (57,050), nursing aides, orderlies and attendants (44,930), construction laborers (34,180), and light or delivery service truck drivers (32,930). Of these five occupations, only the light or delivery service truck drivers had an increase in cases (23 percent) from 2006.
· Ten occupations had more than 20,000 injuries and illnesses in 2007. These 10 occupations (including the five mentioned above) made up 33 percent of all injuries and illnesses with days away from work in 2007, and have had more than 20,000 injuries and illnesses every year since 2003.
· Six occupations had rates of 350 or more per 10,000 full-time workers. These occupations had 0.1 percent or more of total employment.
· Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants had the highest rate of injuries and illnesses with 465 per 10,000 full-time workers.
· The remaining five occupations were laborers and freight, stock and material movers with a rate of 434, non-restaurant food servers (415), construction laborers (394), light or delivery service truck drivers (370), and roofers (363).
· Five occupations had incidence rates over 1,000 per 10,000 workers: athletes and sports competitors (2,049), animal control workers (1,520), hoist and winch operators (1,294), mine shuttle car operators (1,289) and psychiatric aides (1,119). These occupations did not have high numbers of cases or high employment.
Workers in the goods-producing industries experienced 349,450 injuries and illnesses with days away from work and had an incidence rate at 153 per 10,000 workers in 2007. Ninety-two percent of these cases were in the manufacturing and construction industry sectors.
· Manufacturing, with 187,200 cases, had the highest case count among goods-producing industries, but had the lowest incidence rate of 133 per 10,000 workers. Contact with objects was the event most often associated with these injuries with a rate of 50 per 10,000 full-time workers.
· Construction industry workers experienced 135,350 injuries and illnesses in 2007 and had an incidence rate of 190 per 10,000 workers. Within construction, contact with objects and equipment resulted in 35 percent of the injuries and illnesses.
In comparison to goods-producing industries, workers in the service-providing industries experienced 809,420 days away from work injuries and illnesses and had a lower incidence rate at 112 per 10,000 workers. Two-thirds of these cases were in the trade, transportation and utilities industry sector and the educational and health services industry sector.
· Trade, transportation and utilities industry workers experienced 359,770 injuries and illnesses in 2007, the highest count of all private industry sectors and had an incidence rate of 158 per 10,000 full-time workers. The transportation and warehousing industry had the highest rate (265) of injuries and illnesses.
· Educational and health services experienced 181,700 cases with an incidence rate of 134. Ninety-four percent of these cases were in health care and social assistance industries.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), often referred to as ergonomic injuries, are injuries or illnesses affecting the connective tissues of the body such as muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage or spinal discs. Injuries or disorders caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents or similar incidents are not MSDs. (A more detailed definition can be found on the BLS Web site http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshdef.htm.) MSDs accounted for 29 percent of all workplace injuries requiring time away from work in 2007, compared to 30 percent of total days-away-from-work cases in 2006.
There were 335,390 MSDs in 2007 requiring a median of 9 days away from work, two more days than the median for all days-away-from-work cases. This is a decline of 21,770 cases (6 percent) from last year, and an 11 percent decline from 2005. The rate of MSD injuries has also declined 8 percent from 39 cases per 10,000 workers in 2006 to 35.
· Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants had a MSD rate of 252 cases per 10,000 workers, a rate more than seven times the national MSD average for all occupations. Laborers and freight handlers had a MSD rate of 149 and light and delivery truck drivers had a MSD rate of 117.
· The MSD rate for several of the major industry sectors decreased significantly from last year. The MSD incident rate for management of companies and enterprises decreased 32 percent (to 11), construction decreased 16 percent (to 41), and manufacturing decreased 10 percent (to 41).
Read the full report and view all of the data tables by clicking on the link below: