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Workplace injuries and illnesses in 2012 continued a decade-long decline, but private-industry employers still experienced nearly 3 million nonfatal incidents, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).Private industry’s workplace injuries and illnesses incidence rate dropped from 5.0 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2003 to 3.4 cases in 2012, according to the agency’s annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, released Nov. 7, 2013.
The 2012 rate is down about 1 percent from 2011.“The rate reported for 2012 continues the pattern of statistically significant declines that, with the exception of 2011, occurred annually for the last decade,” the bureau said.
Work-related fatalities are on the decline, as well, BLS data released in August 2013 reveals.Among the findings of the injury and illness survey:
The BLS reported 792,700 injury and illness cases in 2012 among approximately 18.2 million state and local government workers, resulting in a rate of 5.6 cases per 100 full-time workers. The rate among these workers was statistically unchanged from 2011 but was higher than the rate among private-sector workers. Nearly 80 percent of injuries and illnesses reported in the public sector occurred among local government workers in 2012, resulting in an injury and illness rate of 6.1 cases per 100 full-time workers, significantly higher than the 4.4 cases per 100 full-time workers in state government.
Despite the nation’s injury and illness incidence rate trending in a positive direction, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels expressed dismay with the private sector’s 3 million incidents. “Three million injuries are three million too many,” he said as he announced a proposed rule requiring employers currently required to keep injury and illness records to electronically file those records with the government every quarter.“With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities,” Michaels said.Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.
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