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Labor Department confirms healthy drop in workplace injury, illness rate

Sources: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational injury and illness data reflect a significant drop in the rate of recordable workplace injuries and illnesses for 2015, continuing a 13-year pattern of decline, notwithstanding 2012 figures.

Private industry employers reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015, representing a decline of about 48,000 from 2014, despite an increase in total hours worked. The rate of cases recorded was 3.0 per 100 full-time workers—down from 3.2 in 2014—and is the lowest recorded since at least 2002, when OSHA recordkeeping requirements were modified. Six of 19 BLS-designated private industry sectors reported a year-over-year injury and illness rate decline in 2015: mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; transportation and warehousing; finance and insurance; health care and social assistance; plus, accommodation and food services. Manufacturing continued an 18-year trend as the only private sector in which the job transfer or restriction case rate exceeded that of days away from work cases. The 2015 rates for these two case types were unchanged from a year earlier at 1.2 cases and 1.0 case per 100 full-time workers, respectively.

"The significant decline in worker injury and illness rates is the result of the relentless efforts of employers, unions, worker advocates, occupational safety and health professionals, and federal and state government agencies ensuring that worker safety and health remains a top priority every day," says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Despite the decline, approximately 2.9 million private sector workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illnesses last year. That is still far too many. At OSHA, we will continue to do all that we can to continue driving the rate down."