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Workplace injury/illness rate declined to record low in 2009 (10/22)

October 22, 2010
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Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers declined in 2009 to a rate of 3.6 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers — down from 3.9 cases in 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday.

Similarly, the number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2009 declined to 3.3 million cases, compared to 3.7 million cases in 2008.

The total recordable case (TRC) injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers has declined significantly each year since 2003, when estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) were first published using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Key findings from the 2009 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses:


  • Incidence rates for injuries and illnesses combined among private industry establishments declined significantly in 2009 for all case types, with the exception of days-away-from-work cases whose rate remained relatively unchanged from 2008 at the level of rounding presented in this release.


  • The number of cases of injuries and illnesses combined declined significantly in 2009 for all case types.


  • The manufacturing industry sector reported the largest year-to-year decline in injuries and illnesses since NAICS was introduced in 2003 — falling by 23 percent (161,100 cases) from 2008 to 2009, lowering the incidence rate by 0.7 cases to 4.3 cases per 100 workers. The drop in cases reported in this sector represents nearly 39 percent of the total private industry decline in injuries and illnesses in 2009.


  • The construction industry sector reported 71,700 fewer cases in 2009, compared to 2008--a 22 percent decline, lowering the incidence rate by 0.4 cases to 4.3 cases per 100 workers.


  • The decline in reported cases among the manufacturing and construction industry sectors together represents nearly 56 percent of the total private industry decline in injuries and illnesses in 2009.


  • The incidence rate of injuries only among private industry workers fell from 3.7 to 3.4 cases per 100 workers between 2008 and 2009, resulting from an 11 percent drop in the number of injury cases.


  • Both the incidence rate and the number of illness cases declined significantly in 2009, compared to 2008--led by a decline among the 'Skin diseases' category which accounted for nearly 47 percent of the decline in illness cases among private industry establishments.


  • 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--commonly referred to as DART cases. These occurred at a rate of 1.8 cases per 100 workers, declining from 2.0 cases in 2008.


  • Among the two components of DART cases, the rate of cases requiring job transfer or restriction fell from 0.9 to 0.8 cases per 100 workers, while the rate for cases involving days away from work remained relatively unchanged in 2009 (1.1 cases) at the level of rounding presented in this release. (Components do not sum to total due to rounding.)


  • Manufacturing was the only private industry sector in 2009 in which the rate of job transfer or restriction cases exceeded the rate of cases with days away from work, continuing a 12-year trend. Other recordable cases--those not involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction--accounted for the remaining injury and illness cases nationally and occurred at a lower rate in 2009 (1.8 cases per 100 workers) compared to 2008 (1.9 cases per 100 workers).


  • The total recordable case injury and illness incidence rate was highest in 2009 among mid-size private industry 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.

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