25 Years of Workplace Injuries – How Do Today’s Workplaces Stack Up?
For more than 45 years, the Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities program at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has compiled statistics about injuries, illnesses and fatalities on the job in the U.S. According to a recent survey of the last 25 years of data, U.S. workers are getting injured less and dying less often at work. But, clearly, there is still work to be done to make every workplace in America safe. BLS reports that fatal work injuries have dropped 17% since 1992. From 1992 through 2016, there were approximately 140,000 fatal work injuries in the U.S. In 1992, there were 6,200 fatal injuries; in 2016, there were only 5,190, even though the U.S. population and work force was larger. According to BLS data, there were 14 deaths per day in 2016. This means a worker died in an accident at work every 100 minutes or so. One area that needs improvement is in area of self-employed workers. The Department of Labor survey shows that the overall fatal rate of injury for all workers per 100,000 was 3.6 in 2016. But for self-employed workers, often working from their home, the fatal injury rate per 100,000 workers was 13.1. This is four times the rate for regular, full-time workers. Nonfatal injuries that keep workers off the job continue to be a challenge as well. The data show that nonfatal injuries or illnesses that caused more than a day away from work made up almost 50% of all nonfatal accidents on the job in private companies in 2016. The remaining accidents happened to workers who did not miss time on the job and did not have any work restrictions. Interestingly, there is a significant difference in accident injury rates for those employed in the private sector as compared to those in the public sector. Certain industries are also much more likely to involve injuries, both fatal and non-fatal. BLS data show that fatal occupational injuries were much higher in the construction field. This is often because many construction workers operate from great heights, and falls are a major contributor to worker fatalities. Also, the transportation and warehousing industry has a higher number of fatal accidents than most other job sectors, such as farming and landscaping. Generally, the survey shows how much progress has been made in preventing workplace injuries and deaths. They still happen, though, and often it is because the company did not do enough to keep the worker safe.