The rate of job injuries and illnesses in private industry in Arkansas declined last year to 4.4 per 100 full-time workers – the lowest rate in 14 years, the Arkansas Labor Department said.
The rate in 2005 was 5.0, the highest in 12 years, the department said. Fatal injuries and illnesses were not included in the study, conducted by the department and the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Leon Cornett, program coordinator for the department, said there was no apparent reason for the spike two years ago followed by the significant decline in 2006.
“I have no idea. That’s just the way it is,” Cornett said. “I can’t predict how many people are going to get hurt in a year. I tried to go back and look at specific industries, but they flip flop from year to year.”
He said safety seminars conducted by the agency, along with the state Insurance Department and the Workers Compensation Commission, may be partly responsible for the improved rate.
The rate changes according to what private employers consider work-related injuries and illnesses under U.S. Labor Department guidelines, the level of economic activity, working conditions, worker experience and training, and the number of hours worked, according to a state Labor Department news release.
Injuries and illnesses were counted if they resulted in a loss of consciousness, restricted work activity or transfer to another job or required medical treatment beyond first aid.
Cornett said the figures were provided to accommodate efforts by the federal government and private employers to improve safety on the job.
On the Net: Arkansas Labor Department www.arkansas.gov/labor
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