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Injury rates for public workers

January 27, 2011

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The most recent figures on workplace injuries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics include, for the first time, incident rates for workers in state and local governments. Released this past fall, the findings indicate these public employees are being injured at a greater rate than workers in the private industry.

In 2009, the private sector reported a workplace injury and illness rate of 3.6 cases per 100 workers. In the public sector, among both state and local government workers, the rate was 5.8. The bulk of these injuries and illnesses among public workers (nearly 4 out of every 5) came from local government, which had a rate of 6.3. State government workers reported a rate of 4.6.

Regarding occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work in 2009, the private industry had 106 cases per 10,000 full-time employees. The public industry rate was nearly double that figure.

"We find it very troubling to note that the rate among local and state government workers was 185 cases and 180 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, respectively," OSHA administrator David Michaels said in a press release.

The BLS figures showed high occurrences of injuries among transit and intercity bus drivers, law enforcement officials, emergency responders, and nursing aides and orderlies.

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