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Workplace Safety: Don’t Become Another Statistic

Julie Copeland

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safety, workplace safety, workplace accidents, safety training, safety in the workplace, workplace injury, workplace illnessAs a leader of your organization and the person in charge of workplace safety, the worst thing you could do is to assume workplace injury and illness won’t occur in your facility.

Even more to the point, you shouldn’t assume that just because you made workplace safety efforts last year that you no longer need to continually update your current system of safety training programs and processes. 

According to a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2011. The result of this statistic is an incidence rate of 3.5 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers. 

Although workplace injury and illness incidence rates among private industry employers declined significantly each year since 2002, the rate reported for 2011 was largely unchanged for the first time in a decade. This is not good news and hopefully not a continuing trend.

Let’s drill down further for a better view of which industries are better or worse in terms of safety in the workplace:

Two private industry sectors experienced an increase in workplace injury and workplace illness in 2011:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting -- This increase was driven by increases in both the crop production and animal production industries.
  • Food services sector -- This increase was driven largely by an increase in other recordable cases in both limited-service restaurants and full-service restaurants.

Two private industry sectors experienced a decrease in workplace injury and workplace illness in 2011:

  • Health care and social assistance -- This decrease was driven by declines both in hospitals and in nursing and residential care facilities.
  • Retail trade -- This decrease showed large declines in cases among supermarkets and other grocery stores, along with several other industries.

Basically, the change in the above statistics, for better or worse, is situational. This stresses the point that workplace safety efforts need to be consistent and ongoing.

More than half of the three million private industry injuries and illness cases reported in 2011 were of a more serious nature involving days away from work, job transfer or restriction. The workplace injury and illness incidence rate was highest in 2011 among mid-size private industry organizations with anywhere between 50-249 workers. It was the lowest for small organizations with fewer than 11 workers. 

The breakdown of workplace injury in 2011:

  • More than 2.8 million (94.8%) of the nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2011 were injuries.
  • Among those injuries, 2.1 million (75.2%) occurred in service-providing industries.
  • The remaining 0.7 million injuries (24.8%) occurred in the goods-producing industries.

The breakdown of workplace illness in 2011:

  • Workplace illnesses accounted for 5.2% of the nearly three million workplace injury and illness cases in 2011.
  • The rate of workplace illnesses was not statistically different from the 2010 incidence rate.
  • Rates among individual illness categories also remained unchanged with the exception of poisonings, for which the rate declined 0.1 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. 

Statistics don’t lie: While workplace accidents were on the decline for almost a decade, it’s leveled off. The stats also show how as any given industry experiences growth or cutbacks, the safety factor also shifts, meaning the need to monitor and adjust safety efforts -- year after year, month after month -- according to these changes is incredibly important. 

We simply cannot become complacent when it comes to getting every worker home safe. Continued safety training and efforts to make your workplace hazard free is critical to the health and wellbeing of your workers, not to mention the financial stability of your organization.

Ready to speak to a Safety Specialist at Arbill to learn more about safety tips and training programs? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with a safety specialist at Arbill.

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Topics: safety, safety training, safety in the workplace, workplace injury, workplace illness, workplace safety, workplace accidents

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