Workplace injury and illness rates declined in 1999 to 6.3 cases per 100 full-time workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Rates have dropped for seven straight years, representing nearly a 30-percent fall-off since 1992.

The 6.3 rate for 1999 is the lowest since BLS began reporting data in the early 1970s. In 1973, the first year reported, the total case rate was 11.0.

Injuries and illnesses dropped four percent in 1999, even with employers reporting a two-percent increase in hours worked.

Total case rates in 1999 for industry divisions: Manufacturing (9.2); Construction (8.6); Transportation and public utilities (7.3); Wholesale and retail trade (6.1); and Mining (4.4).

In the manufacturing sector, the highest rates were reported in these industries: Transportation equipment (13.7); Lumber and wood products (13.0); Primary metals (12.9); Food products (12.7); and Fabricated metals (12.6).

Of the 5.7 million total injuries and illnesses reported in 1999, almost half (2.7 million) were serious enough to require recuperation away from work, restricted duties at work, or both. The rate for these lost workday cases declined from 3.1 to 3.0 per 100 workers in 1999.

In manufacturing, the lost workday rate was 4.6. Manufacturing was the only industry to report a higher incidence of restricted-duty-only cases (2.4) than days-away-from-work cases (2.2).