U.S. Report: Fewer Work Days Being Lost Due to Injuries, Illnesses

November 14, 2007

Both the rate and the number of occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work decreased from 2005 to 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department Labor.

The 2006 rate was 128 per 10,000 workers, a decrease of 6 percent from 2005. There were 1.2 million cases requiring days away from work in private industry, which represented a decrease of 51,180 cases (or 4 percent). Median days away from work—a key measure of the severity of the injury or illness—was 7 days in 2006, the same as the prior two years.

Nursing aides lose the most work days due to injuries or ilnesses, according to the report. The most common injury across all industries is strains and sprains.

Key findings for 2006 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work:

Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, had 49,480 days away from work cases and a rate of 526 per 10,000 workers, which was more than four times the total for all occupations.

Three other occupations with more than 40,000 cases had rates above 400 per 10,000 workers: construction laborers (488); laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (466); and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (411).

Men had a days-away-from-work rate of 143 per 10,000 workers; the rate for women was 106 per 10,000 workers.

Four out of 10 days away from work cases were sprains or strains. Approximately one in five of these were suffered by laborers and freight, stock, and material movers; heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; and nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants.

Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 30 percent of the injuries and illnesses with days away from work, the same percentage as in 2005.

Sprains and strains was the leading nature of injury and illness in every major industry sector. These injuries decreased by 6 percent for total private industry in 2006 and for both goods-producing and service-providing industries. Trade, transportation, and utilities reported 157,380 sprains and strains, 33 percent of the total.

The overall number of cases of carpal tunnel syndrome decreased by 21 percent.

Workers on the job 5 years or more had a decrease of 27 percent for these kinds of illnesses.

The part of the body most affected by work incidents was the trunk (including the shoulder and back) accounting for 34 percent of all cases. Cases involving the trunk decreased by 6 percent from 2005. Injuries and illnesses to the back made up 62 percent of the days-away-from-work cases involving the trunk.

Floors, walkways, and ground surfaces were the source of injury or illness for 18 percent of all days-away-from-work cases. Worker motion or position accounted for 14 percent.

Assaults and violent acts (by person) increased by 10 percent, with those to women increasing 21 percent to 10,400 cases. Sixty percent of the assaults and violent acts (by person) occurred in health care and social assistance and mainly involved assaults by health care patients.

Falls from a ladder decreased by 17 percent.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department Labor

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