The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that private-industry workplace injuries and illnesses declined in 2013 for the tenth time in the past eleven years, including in the manufacturing sector. The U.S. Commerce Department agency reported in its annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses that the rate of workplace injuries/illnesses fell to 3.3 per 100 full-time workers, down from 3.4 per 100 full-time workers during the previous year.
The actual number BLS recorded for private-sector workplace injuries/illnesses was slightly more than 3 million for 2013. Over half of these injuries required the workers to miss days away from work, or required a job transfer or restriction (i.e. “DART” cases.) That point fell for the first time since 2009.
OSHA head Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor an occupational safety and health, commented on the trend. "Today we learned that, in 2013, approximately 3 million private-sector workers in America experienced a serious injury or illness on the job,” he stated. “In this extraordinarily high number, it is easy to focus on the headline and miss the trend line. We are encouraged that the rates continue to decline over the past few years, even during this period of healthy economic growth when we would expect the rate of injuries to rise. The decrease in the injury rate is a product of tireless work by those employers, unions, worker advocates and occupational safety and health professionals all coupled with the efforts of federal and state government organizations that make worker safety and health a high priority each and every day."
While the actual number of injuries declined in manufacturing, retail, and utilities sectors, the majority (75.5%) of the injuries recorded during 2013 occurred in the service sector, including trade, transportation, hospitality, and health services.
Also, the rate of workplace injuries/illnesses is significantly higher for state and local government workers than among private-sector employees, 5.2 per 100 full-time workers in the former, compared with 3.3 per 100 in the latter. Still, the injuries/illnesses figure for government workers was down from 5.6 per 100 in 2012.
OSHA has issued new reporting rules for employers dealing with workplace injuries and illnesses. Those rules take effect January 1.