Workplace injuries, illnesses continue to decline
-But more than half in 2012 were serious
Nearly 3.0 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2012, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.4 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (See tables 1 and 2.)
The rate reported for 2012 continues the pattern of statistically significant declines that, with the exception of 2011, occurred annually for the last decade.
Key findings from the 2012 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
* The total recordable cases (TRC) incidence rate of injury and illness among private industry establishments declined in 2012 from a year earlier, as did the rate for other recordable cases not requiring time away from work. The rate for cases of a more serious nature involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction--commonly referred to as DART--was unchanged in 2012, as a decline in the rate of cases involving days away from work was offset by the rate for cases involving job transfer or restriction only which was unchanged.
* No private industry sector experienced an increase in the rate of injuries and illnesses in 2012.
* Manufacturing was the only private industry sector in 2012 in which the rate of job transfer or restriction only cases exceeded the rate of cases with days away from work. This continues a 15-year trend. However, the rates for these two case types have been converging in recent years and differed by only 0.2 case in 2012.
* The incidence rate of injuries only among private industry workers declined to 3.2 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2012--down from 3.3 cases in 2011. (See table 5.)In comparison, the incidence rate of illness cases was statistically unchanged in 2012.
* The rate of injuries and illnesses among state and local government workers of 5.6 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2012 was statistically unchanged from 2011, but was still significantly higher than the private industry rate. The incidence rates for state government and local government individually also remained statistically unchanged in 2012--4.4 cases and 6.1 cases per 100 full-time workers, respectively.
Private industry injuries and illnesses
Injuries and illnesses by type of case
More than one-half of the nearly 3.0 million private industry injury and illness cases reported nationally in 2012 were of a more serious nature that involved days away from work, job transfer, or restriction (DART cases). These cases occurred at a rate of 1.8 cases per 100 full-time workers, statistically unchanged annually since 2009. (See table 7.)
Between the two components of DART cases, the rate for cases involving days away from work declined in 2012 by 0.1 case to 1.0 case per 100 workers, while the rate of cases requiring job transfer or restriction was unchanged from a year earlier (0.7 case).
Other recordable cases--those not involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction--accounted for the remaining more than 1.4 million injury and illness cases nationally in 2012 and declined to a rate of 1.6 cases per 100 full-time workers compared to 1.7 cases in 2011.
The TRC injury and illness incidence rate remained highest in 2012 among mid-size private industry establishments (those employing between 50 and 249 workers) and lowest among small establishments (those employing fewer than 11 workers). (See table 3.)
More than 2.8 million (94.8 percent) of the nearly 3.0 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2012 were injuries. (See table 5.) Among injuries, 2.1 million (75.2 percent) occurred in service-providing industries, which employed 82.4 percent of the private industry workforce. The remaining 0.7 million injuries (24.8 percent) occurred in goods-producing industries, which accounted for 17.6 percent of private industry employment in 2012.
Workplace illnesses accounted for 5.2 percent of the nearly 3.0 million injury and illness cases in 2012. (See table 6b.) The rate of workplace illnesses in 2012 (17.5 cases per 10,000 full-time workers) was not statistically different from the 2011 incidence rate (18.0 cases). Rates among all of the individual illness categories also were unchanged in 2012 compared to a year earlier.
Goods-producing industries accounted for 34.3 percent of all occupational illness cases in 2012, resulting in an incidence rate of 28.6 cases per 10,000 full-time workers--declining from 31.0 cases in 2011. The manufacturing industry sector accounted for 29.5 percent of all private industry occupational illness cases, resulting in one of the highest illness incidence rates among all industry sectors of 38.6 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2012--down from 40.8 cases in 2011. Service-providing industries accounted for 65.6 percent of private industry illness cases and experienced a rate of 14.5 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2012--statistically unchanged from the prior year. Among service-providing industry sectors, health care and social assistance contributed 23.4 percent of all private industry illness cases and experienced an incidence rate of 28.2 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2012--falling from 30.5 cases in 2011.
National public sector estimates
An estimated 792,700 injury and illness cases were reported in 2012 among the approximately 18.2 million state and local government workers--for example, police protection (North American Industry Classification System, NAICS 922120) and fire protection (NAICS 922160)--resulting in a rate of 5.6 cases per 100 full-time workers. The rate among these workers was statistically unchanged from a year earlier (5.7 cases) but was higher than the rate among private industry workers (3.4 cases per 100 workers) in 2012. Nearly 4 in 5 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.
Private industry and public sector estimates are available for 42 participating states and for the District of Columbia for 2012. Data for establishments in the eight states for which individual estimates are unavailable are collected by BLS regional offices and used solely for the tabulation of national estimates. State estimates will be available online on Friday, November 22, 2013; these estimates may also be requested prior to this from the respective state offices. (See www.bls.gov/iif/oshstate.htm for state contacts.)
As compared to a year earlier, private industry TRC injury and illness incidence rates among the 42 states and the District of Columbia for which estimates are available in 2012 declined in 8 states and in the District of Columbia, rose in 1 state, and were statistically unchanged in 32 states (estimates for Ohio for 2011 were not available for comparison).
The private industry TRC injury and illness incidence rates were higher in 21 states than the national rate of 3.4 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2012, lower than the national rate in 15 states and in the District of Columbia, and not statistically different from the national rate in 6 states. Differences in industry mix account for at least some of the differences in rates across states.
Publication tables and supplemental charts
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has generated estimates of injuries and illnesses for many of the 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-digit industries as defined in the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) manual. A complete listing of these estimates is not available in this release. However, summary tables 1 and 2--providing incidence rates and counts of injuries and illnesses by detailed NAICS industry, case type, and ownership (e.g., total recordable cases or cases with days away from work in private industry), respectively--may be accessed electronically for the current year and for prior years from www.bls.gov/iif/oshsum.htm, requested from BLS staff at (202) 691-6170, or requested by email at IIFSTAFF@bls.gov. Supplemental tables and charts illustrating trends among incidence rates and counts are also available from these sources. Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service (800)877-8339.
Background of the survey
Second in a series of three releases from the BLS covering occupational safety and health statistics for the 2012 calendar year, this release follows the August preliminary report on fatal work-related injuries from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). A third release in November 2013 will provide case circumstances and worker characteristics from the SOII for nonfatal injury and illness cases requiring at least one day away from work to recuperate.
Additional background and methodological information regarding the BLS occupational safety and health statistics program, including information such as changes in the definition of recordable cases due to revised recordkeeping requirements in 2002 and the inherent underreporting of illnesses, can be found in Chapter 9 of the BLS Handbook of Methods at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/pdf/homch9.pdf.
Employment data in this news release are 2012 annual averages provided by the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program.
Completeness of SOII estimates
Several studies by outside researchers conducted in the mid 2000s questioned the completeness of BLS injury and illness estimates from the SOII. In response to these studies, the BLS began researching the issue internally in 2007 and, at the request of Congress, established an ongoing research program to explore potential undercounting of workplace injuries and illnesses. An initial round of research conducted between 2009 and 2012 determined that the SOII failed to capture some cases but could not determine the magnitude or leading cause of an undercount. Findings suggested that the ability to match injury and illness data across different data sources is impacted by various factors, such as establishment type, the time of case filing, and the type of injury. Results of initial studies led BLS to initiate additional research that commenced in the fall of 2012. Projects are currently underway to explore employers’™ recordkeeping practices, to match multiple years of SOII data to workers’™ compensation records to analyze trends over time, and to investigate the feasibility of computer-assisted coding of the SOII narrative information to improve classification consistency. Results of on-going research projects will be available in 2014. Additional information about the completeness of SOII estimates can be found at www.bls.gov/iif/oshfaq1.htm#q02.