Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) conducts the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (“SOII”), collecting a sample of data from select employers to represent all industries and sizes of establishments. From that sample, BLS calculates national injury and illnesses rates for certain industries.
In 2003, the injury and illness rate for private sector employers sat at 5.0 recordable injuries for every 100 full-time equivalent workers. Since then, the overall injury and illness rate for the private sector has either declined or remained that same year after year. BLS recently released the injury and illness date for 2018. And, 2018 was no different from prior years as the injury and illness rate remained at 2.8, the same rate as 2017. The BLS also calculated that there were about 2.81 million work-related injuries or illnesses in 2018. This too was the same estimate as 2017. Additionally, in 2018 there were 900,380 injuries or illnesses that caused at least one day away from work, which is essentially unchanged from 2017.
But not each industry maintained the same injury and illness rate from 2017 to 2018. The retail trade industry saw an increase in its total recordable rate from 3.3 in 2017 to 3.5 in 2018. Similarly, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry saw its rate increase from 5.0 to 5.3. Other industries saw modest decreases in their industry and illnesses rates. For instance, the manufacturing industry saw its total recordable rate decrease to 3.4 from 3.5 in 2017. The construction industry also saw its rate fall to 3.0 from 3.1.
In addition to providing injury and illness data on large industries, the BLS also broke down industries into smaller subsectors. Several subsectors had injury and illness rates higher than that of their respective industries. The highest subsector rates were pet care services at 11.4; veterinary services at 10.4; steel foundries at 10.2; and skiing facilities at 10. When it came to the public sector, the highest rate belonged to state-operated nursing and residential care facilities, which had an injury and illness rate of 11.9.
Belonging to an industry that has a higher or increasing injury and illness rate does not mean that individual employers do not keep their employees safe or fail to provide a safe and healthy work environment. But employers in those industries should know that OSHA will likely use this BLS data to set its enforcement priorities in the near future.