A recent news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals some good news for private industry workers. The annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in private industries shows an overall decline in injuries and illnesses in the workplace for 2009. The report, which is released annually by BLS for the U.S. Department of Labor to summarize injury statistics for the year prior, is a positive sign that safety regulations and oversight are helping to improve the working environment for employees.
The 2009 survey found that private industries reported 3.6 cases of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees. Comparatively, this marks a decline from 2008’s reported 3.9 cases per 100 employees. In total numbers, while 2008 showed approximately 3.7 million reports of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses, the 2009 survey revealed that reported injuries declined approximately 400,000 to 3.3 million.
Injuries on the job were responsible for approximately 3.1 million, or 94.9 percent, of the total 3.3 million cases. For injuries, the rate in 2009 fell to 3.4 cases per 100 workers from 3.7 of the previous year. This drop amounts to an overall decline of 11 percent in reported injury cases. The remaining reported cases are attributable to workplace illnesses, amounting to approximately 166,000 cases in 2009. Workplace illnesses saw a substantial decline, also with 11 percent fewer cases than in 2008. Goods-producing industries were responsible for about 34 percent of illness cases, but showed a considerable improvement over prior years, with number and rate of illnesses declining overall. This improvement was substantial enough to lower by two-thirds the overall rate of illnesses reported by private industries. Also, while 29 percent of illness cases in 2009 are attributable to manufacturing, cases reported fell 11,200 from 2008. Service-providing industries also reported 7,500 fewer cases in 2009.
Despite these improvements, the overall number of injuries and illnesses reported among private industry workers is still staggering. The report states, “Slightly more than one-half of the 3.3 million private industry injury and illness cases reported nationally in 2009 were of a more serious nature that involved days away from work, job transfer, or restriction.” Sadly, these numbers were relatively unchanged, with employees requiring transfer or restriction only falling .1 cases per 100 workers, and the rate of cases requiring days away from work remaining unchanged.
Though problems with worker safety will no doubt continue to exist, any improvement is a signal that regulations and oversight do make a difference. As employees are often the first line of defense in improving worker safety, all concerns or injuries should be reported immediately. If you have a concern about on-the-job safety or have been injured while working, contact a Chicago workers compensation attorney who can assist you.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyer that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.