The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported March 30 that a total of 1.3 million injuries and illnesses in private industry required recuperation away from work during 2003. The three occupations with the greatest number of injuries and illnesses were:

  • laborers and material movers;
  • truckers; and
  • nursing aides, orderlies and attendants.

Of the 89,510 injured laborers and material movers, 83 percent were men. Similarly, of the 71,900 injured heavy truck drivers, 95 percent were men. More than 4 out of 10 of both occupations’ injuries were sprains or strains, often stemming from overexertion or contacts with objects or equipment. Heavy truck drivers also suffered a large portion of their injuries due to transportation accidents and falls.

In contrast, 91 percent of the 56,820 injured nursing aides and related workers were women. They predominantly suffered sprains and strains, typically their back, due to overexertion related to lifting or moving patients.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 435,180 -- or 33 percent -- of the workplace injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work in 2003, the largest single category of lost-worktime injuries and illnesses.

The 2003 data was compiled for the first time using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and the Standard Occupational Classification Manual.