Private Sector Workplaces Safer in 2005

October 20, 2006 ( - US private-sector workplaces were a bit safer in 2005 over the year before, according to new government data.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US Department of Labor (DoL) showed that nonfatal private sector workplace injuries and illnesses dropped from 4.8 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers for 2004 to 4.6 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers in 2005.

The BLS said the rate resulted from a total of 4.2 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses in private industry workplaces during 2005 – relatively unchanged compared to 2004 – and a 2% hike in the total number of hours worked. The combined incidence rates for injuries and illnesses declined significantly in 2005 for most case types, with the exception of cases with days away from work.

Data by Sector

The government report said that goods-producing industries had an injury and illness incidence rate of 6.2 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, while service-providing industries had a rate of 4.1 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers. The incidence rate for goods-producing industries declined by 0.3 cases and the rate for service-providing industries fell by 0.1 case per 100 equivalent full-time workers compared to the rates reported for 2004.

Meanwhile, among goods-producing industry sectors, incidence rates during 2005 ranged from 3.6 cases per 100 full-time workers in mining to 6.3 cases per 100 full-time workers in construction and in manufacturing jobs. While rates among service-providing industry sectors ranged up to 7 cases per 100 fulltime workers in transportation and warehousing, finance and insurance had the lowest rate within this domain at one case.

Despite this low rate, finance and insurance was the only industry sector to experience a statistically significant increase in the overall incidence rate in 2005, rising by 0.1 case per 100 full-time workers, BLS said.

Looking at the data by size of employer, BLS said small establishments (one to 10 workers) reported the lowest rate for injuries and illnesses combined (2 cases per 100 full-time workers), while mid-size establishments (those employing 50 to 249 workers) reported the highest rate (5.8 cases per 100 full-time workers).

While incidence rates remained relatively unchanged for establishments employing fewer than 1,000 workers, the rate for large establishments (1,000 or more workers) dropped in 2005 to 5.2 cases per 100 full-time workers, from 5.4 in 2004.

Fourteen industries, each having at least 100,000 injuries and illnesses combined, accounted for slightly more than 1.9 million cases (46%) of the 4.2 million total. These same fourteen industries also reported having at least 100,000 injuries and illnesses in both of the previous two years. Hospitals has topped this group of industries in each of the last three years, followed by nursing and residential care facilities.

Approximately 2.2 million injuries and illnesses were cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction. That is they required recuperation away from work, transfer to another job, restricted duties at work, or a combination of these actions. The remaining 2.million injuries and illnesses were other recordable cases that did not result in time away from work. The incidence rate for cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction was 2.4 cases per 100 workers, and the rate for other recordable cases was 2.2.

BLS Resources

The full government report is here .

The BLS also offers online tools to help employers analyze injury and illness data:

  • access to injury and illness data by industry, demographic characteristics, and case characteristics and will be updated soon to include prior years’ data.
  • employers to compute their own injury and illness incidence rate for safety management purposes and compare their rate to the rate for their industry.