Injuries, Illness Kept 1.3M Workers Off Work in 2003

April 1, 2005 ( - Some 1.3 million US private-sector workers' injuries and illnesses kept them off the job beyond the day they got hurt or fell ill during 2003, the government reported.

The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said in a special report issued this week that the sectors suffering the greatest number of serious injuries and illnesses were:

  • laborers and material movers – 89,510
  • heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers – 71,900
  • nursing aides, orderlies and attendants – 56,820

Most employees in the first two categories – 83% of laborers and material movers and 95% of heavy and tractor-trailer drivers – were men with more than 40% involving sprains or strains from overexertion or in dealing with heavy equipment, the government said. Heavy truck drivers also suffered a large portion of transportation accidents and falls.

The situation was markedly different, however, with nursing home employees. There, according to the BLS, 91% were women who suffered sprains or strains – mostly to their backs – in trying to lift or move patients.

According to the government data, job categories also suffering large numbers of ill or hurt workers off the job for a day included:

  • construction laborers – 41,620
  • janitors and cleaners – 35,660
  • retail salespersons – 35,420
  • truck drivers, light or delivery services – 33, 280
  • carpenters – 29480

BLS said that in addition to the private-sector workers kept off the job for a least a day, another 980,000 employees were hurt or got sick in 2003 where only a job transfer or restricted work activity was called for.

In terms of specific injuries, there were 563,910 sprains or strains; 118,800 bruises or contusions; 96,410 cuts or lacerations; 94,960 fractures; 47,950 multiple injuries; and 22,140 cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, the BLS report said.