The agency reports that the rate of non-fatal occupational illnesses and injuries requiring days away from work was 112 cases for every 10,000 full-time workers. That was last year, representing only a slight dip from the rate of 117 cases per 10,000 full-time workers that was reported in 2011.
Collectively among workers employed by the private industry, state and local governments, the total number of days away from work dropped by an incremental 2 percent during that same time frame, down to roughly 1.2 million days.
In looking at the severity of these incidents, the bureau calculated the number of days each worker took, finding that the median figure was nine days. That’s one day more than what was reported in 2011, suggesting that even though there was a small decrease in the number of injuries, those that did occur were more severe.
Further, while the overall tally reflected a lesser number of illnesses and injuries reported, there were certain professions where sharp increases were tabulated.
For example, while the private sector incidence rate for the number of missed work days dropped from 105 per 10,000 workers to 102, four groups of workers reported a greater number of lost work days. Those were:
- Computer and mathematical occupations;
- Community and social service workers;
- Personal care and service workers;
- Transportation and material moving workers.
The highest of those, transportation and material moving employees, reported an increase of 251 missed work days per 10,000 workers in 2011 to 258 missed days in 2012.
For local government workers, the average number of missed work days was 178 cases per 10,000 workers. The most at-risk local government workers were transit and bus drivers, with an incident rate of more than 850 missed work days per 10,000 workers. That was more than twice the rate of what was reported by private sector bus drivers.
Firefighters, police officers and correctional employees also reported exceptionally high injury rates.
As to the nature of these reported illnesses and injuries, the bureau reports that more than one-third of all cases in 2012 were attributable to musuloskeletal disorders. These would include conditions such as degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries and sprains. Those with the highest rate of musculoskeletal disorders were individuals working in the labor and freight and stock workers.
Violence in the workplace is also of growing concern. Overall in the private sector, the rate increased from 4 cases per 100,000, reflecting a six percent increase from 2011 to 2012. Employees most likely to suffer violence at work were those working in health care and social services.
Bear in mind that these figures reflect a problem that impacts not just those who must take the time off work. There is an undisputed impact on employers, who not only must pay out workers’ compensation benefits, but who also must adapt to the staffing changes necessary when key workers can’t show up for the job.
There is also a ripple effect on other employees. Many times, workers rely on their colleagues to look out for their safety. They lose some of that benefit when their co-workers are out sick or hurt. Plus, when staffing levels are lowered, everyone may be asked to do more with less, which heightens the risk for a future injury. It becomes cyclical.
And lastly, services may be impacted. This would be especially visible in the health care sector. Most doctors, nurses and clinicians are heavily overworked as it is. Adding to that load by a reduction of staff is going to have an inevitable negative effect on the level of patient care.
If you have been injured at work in North Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2012, Nov. 26, 2013, U.S. Bureau of Labor Sta tics
More Blog Entries
Aggravation of Pre-Existing Condition Covered Under Workers’ Compensation, Dec. 15, 2013, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog