The Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission announced that non-construction laborers and freight, stock, and material movers recorded the largest number of occupational injuries and illnesses in Texas in 2003, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Overexertion and contact with objects and equipment were the most common causes of injuries and illnesses experienced by this occupational group. In more than 30 percent of the cases, injuries suffered by this group resulted in more than 31 days away from work.
The BLS Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses is conducted in cooperation with TWCC. Among other criteria, the survey examines demographic information about ill or injured workers. White, non-Hispanic workers accounted for 32.7 percent of total cases, followed by workers of Hispanic origin with 32.1 percent. Men experienced 66 percent of all Texas work-related injuries and illnesses, with the highest percentages in the construction and manufacturing industries. Women experienced 34 percent of all injuries and illnesses, reporting a significantly high percentage in education and health service industries (84.1 percent).
The BLS Annual Survey also provides information about the cause and nature of work-related injuries and illnesses, and the parts of the body affected. Overexertion was the leading cause, affecting 26.9 percent of the total, followed by contact with objects and equipment (24.3 percent). Sprains and strains were the leading nature of injury and illness, representing 47 percent of all cases. The back was the most affected part of the body; 23.4 percent of all recorded cases resulted in back injuries.
Besides identifying high-risk situations and environments by incident frequency, the survey also measures time lost from work. The number of median days away from work is a key measure of the severity of injuries and illnesses. In 2003, the median number of lost workdays for all cases in Texas was 10 days. However, several occupations recorded a remarkably higher number of lost workdays. Truck drivers—light or delivery services, for example—had a median of 28 days lost from work, while ticket agents and travel clerks had a median of 24 days lost due to injury.
The survey also identifies median days away from work by nature of injury, body part, and cause. Injuries that resulted in the most days away from work were amputations (45 median days), carpal tunnel syndrome (34 days), and fractures (24 days). The leading cause of injury, with a median of 23 lost workdays, was repetitive motion, followed by overexertion in lifting, and transportation accidents at 14 days each. The most severely affected body parts were shoulders (30 days), wrist (19 days), and knees (18 days). While back injuries were the most frequently recorded incident in 2003, the median days away from work for a back injury was only 12 days.
The Commission’s Workers’ Health & Safety Division has many resources available to assist in the reduction of occupational incidents in the high hazard categories. To assist in the reduction of overexertion injuries and incidents among laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, and delivery truck drivers, the Workers’ Health & Safety Division conducts the following statewide seminars:
· Back Injury Prevention
· Ergonomics (Office or General Industry)
· Safety and Health Outreach Program – General Industry
· Hazard Communication
· Accident Prevention Planning
· Walking-Working Surfaces
· Supervising for Safety
· Warehouse Safety
Many training seminars and publications are offered in both English and Spanish. The Commission’s Safety and Health resources may be found at: http://www.twcc.state.tx.us/ commission/divisions/ division.html or call (512) 804-4626.
In addition to the significant findings presented above, the BLS survey provides more extensive data on the case characteristics of Texas injuries and illnesses, and on the demographics of ill or injured workers. This data is available on the Commission Web site at www.twcc.state.tx.us under “Services and Resources” or by calling (512) 804-4637.
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