Okla. Department of Labor Says Fewer Injuries in Required Time Off Work in 2002

March 30, 2004

The number of workplace injuries involving lost workdays fell 10 percent in 2002 compared with the previous year according to a report released this month by the Oklahoma Department of Labor.

Of the 16,747 job-related injuries and illnesses involving days-away-from-work, the Services sector accounted for 21 percent of all incidents. Manufacturing and retail trade sectors followed closely at 19 percent each. The construction industry recorded 13 percent of all lost workday incidents.

“So many of these injuries are preventable,” said Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau Wynn. “I’m joyful that we continue to bring workplace accidents down. Even though fewer workers required days away from work to recover than in 2002, we’re still talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal financial loss, reduced productivity and increased business costs.”

Statistics gathered by the Oklahoma Department of Labor again point to soft-tissue trauma as the leading cause of injury in every major industry category. As in 2001, sprains and strains accounted for about 43 percent of all incidents in 2002. The actual number of incidents fell 12 percent in 2002 totaling 7,154 compared with 8,111 in 2001. Twenty-seven percent of all incidents involving days-away-from-work required in excess of 31 days to recover from a workplace injury.

Overexertion was again the primary cause for workplace injuries involving days-away-from-work. At 28 percent, overexertion accounted for 4,706 of all lost-time injuries. The figure represents a six percent decline from 2001.

The second leading cause of injury resulting in days-away-from-work (25 percent) was contact with objects or equipment. The 4,181 “contact” incidents recorded in 2002 represent an 11 percent decline from the 4,675 incidents in 2001.

Among all incidents reported in 2002, 36 percent affected the trunk area. As in the previous year, about one-in-five involved back injuries.

Construction work sites lead the list as the place “most likely” to sustain an injury involving lost workdays. Of the 4,600 injuries reported in 2002, 47 percent or 2,165 resulted in lost workdays. In retail trade, 30 percent or 3,194 of the 10,800 workplace injuries recorded involved days-away-from-work. Manufacturing followed at 26 percent or almost one-in-four of all injuries (12,600) requiring time off for recuperation. Services, the industry sector accounting for most of all recordable injuries (20,100), reported 17 percent or 3,513 workers sustaining injuries involving days-away-from-work.

“Fewer injuries involving lost workdays is a good sign,” noted Reneau Wynn. “An even better result can be achieved by implementing effective workplace safety and health programs. It’s a simple equation. Reducing the risk reduces injuries and that equals a reduction in workers’ compensation costs.

“Without a doubt, the most high-performance government program is Safety Pays,” continued Reneau Wynn. “Our OSHA Consultants and Industrial Hygienists have the answers, the training and the techniques needed to help businesses and workers eliminate workplace accidents.”

Safety Pays is a free, confidential, voluntary and non-punitive consultation service that will help employers avoid and even prevent a federal OSHA enforcement inspection. Safety Pays reportedly guarantees to lower workers’ comp costs and reduce injuries when the key elements of management commitment and employee involvement are the basis for a company’s safety and health program.

Days-Away-From-Work injury characteristics
GENDER: Men accounted for almost 70 percent or 11,666 of the 16,747 incidents recorded in 2002. The percentage jumped from 62 percent recorded in 2001. Men led women in percent of days-away-from-work in every industry category except Retail Trade and Services.

AGE: Employees between the ages of 25 to 54 years accounted 75 percent of all injuries resulting in lost workdays in 2002. The percentage mirrors the 74 percent recorded in 2001. Of this larger age group, more than half (56.5 percent) occurred to employees aged 25 to 44 years. The percentage of injuries to younger workers, 16 to 19-year olds declined for the third straight year down to 1.8 percent of lost workday injuries and illnesses. Workers age 55 years and older accounted for 9.3 percent of all injuries involving days-away-from-work although 39 percent of this age group required at least 31 days or more to recover.

OCCUPATION: Once again, Operators, fabricators and laborers hold the top spot for recording the highest number of days-away-from-work incidents in 2002. The 6,834 recorded cases (40.8 percent) is down 3 percent from the 7,019 incidents recorded in 2001 and down 8.3 percent from 2000’s 7,457 incidents. Service occupations recorded 3,513 incidents or 21 percent of all incidents resulting in days-away-from-work.

After a one-year absence, Truck drivers regained the top spot to lead all occupational categories in 2002. The 1,113 cases resulting in days-away-from-work represents a 1.5 percent drop from the 1,311 incidents recorded in 2001. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants dropped from first to second recording 868 incidents, a 44 percent decrease from 2001. Non-construction laborers ranked third with 720 incidents marking a 48 percent drop from the previous year.

LENGTH OF SERVICE: The 2002 statistics provide additional reinforcement of the importance of employee retention. Workers with less than 11 months on the job accounted for 6,184 or almost 37 percent of cases in 2002. Employees with more than five years on the job accounted for about one-in-four injuries resulting in days-away-from-work.

RACE OR ETHNIC ORIGIN: White workers accounted for one-half (50 percent) of all incidents in 2002, down from 28 percent in 2001. Frustrating the data in this category is the result of race or ethnic origin either not known or not reported in 31 percent of incidents. Hispanic workers recorded 6.6 percent of the total in 2002, down slightly from 6.9 percent in 2001. Black employees recorded 4.5 percent of the total in 2002, down from 8.7 percent the previous year. American Indian workers accounted for 3.1 percent of all incidents, up from 2 percent in 2001. Asian employees recorded 0.8 percent of all incidents in 2002, down from 1.2 percent in 2001 and 1.8 percent in 2000.

The Oklahoma Department of Labor conducts this annual survey under a contract with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. The report reflects 2001 non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses resulting in days-away-from-work, the last year for which complete data has been collected. Days-away-from-work cases include those incidents which result in days-away-from-work with or without restricted work activity.

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