BLS: Injuries and illnesses continue downward trend

October 21, 2010

The number and rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses among private employers in the United States declined in 2009, a continuation of the ongoing trend, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A case rate of 3.6 injuries and illnesses occurred for every 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to a BLS report released Thursday. This represents a decline from the 2008 rate of 3.9. The number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses also declined from 3.7 million in 2008 to 3.3 million cases last year.

The injury and illness rate has been declining for nearly 20 years, according to various measurements. Some critics have questioned those figures, which are estimates based on surveys sent to employers. A Government Accountability Office report (.pdf file) released last November suggested employers are underreporting injuries and illnesses, prompting OSHA to launch a National Emphasis Program on recordkeeping. The NEP was revised (.pdf file) in September.

(For more information on the BLS data, watch for the annual “State of Safety” article in the January 2011 issue of Safety+Health magazine.)