On October 27, 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report entitled Employer-reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – 2015. The report details injuries and illnesses in both the private and public sectors, and it offers a quick glimpse at injury rates in different professions. In 2015, more than 3.6 million non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses occurred in the United States.
Private Sector Injury Rates
In 2015, private industry employers reported about 2.9 million of those non-fatal injuries and illnesses. They occurred at a rate of 3.0 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, down from 3.2 per 100 in 2014. In raw numbers, this represents 48,000 fewer nonfatal injuries. With the exception of 2012, private industry injuries and illnesses have declined annually for 13 years straight.
The Minnesota rate of 3.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers, substantially higher than the national rate. However, that rate was similar to those reported by adjoining states like Wisconsin and Iowa. Individual state data was not available for South Dakota and North Dakota.
Greater than 50 percent of the cases reported for 2015 resulted in either days away from work, job transfers or job restrictions (DART). Such cases occurred at a rate of 1.6 per 100 equivalent full-time workers.
The rate of injuries and illnesses among private industry workers declined in six of the 19 categories identified by the BLS:
- Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
- Transportation and warehousing
- Finance and insurance
- Healthcare and social assistance
- Accommodation and food services.
Public Sector Injury Rates
In the public sector, approximately 752,000 injuries and illnesses were reported for 2015. Public sector employees include law enforcement, firefighters, public school teachers, hospital employees, etc. According to the BLS, there are about 18.4 million of these public sector workers. As a result, the incident rate was 5.1 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in 2015. In 2014, the rate was slightly lower, at 5.0 cases per 100.
Overall, the injury and illness rate in the public sector is approximately 60 percent higher than in the private sector. However, local government workers experience nonfatal accidents and injuries at a significantly higher rate (5.6/100) than state government workers (3.7/100). While the rate was statistically unchanged year-over-year among local public sector workers, it dropped significantly among state workers. That group saw the rate decline from 4.1 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in 2014 to 3.7/100 the following year.
More Must be Done
Although the BLS report offers positive news regarding declining injury rates, much work must be done to properly protect workers while they are on the job. Injuries are far more frequent in the public sector, in part because it includes relatively more dangerous professions like firefighting. Despite reduced injury rates, one in 20 full-time equivalent workers in the public sector suffer an injury every year. In the private sector, an injury befalls approximately one in 33 full-time equivalent workers every year.
When an individual is a victim of a workplace injury, each state’s Workers Compensation laws provide benefits to at least partially offset lost wages, medical expenses, disabilities and more. Workers should understand that the workplace is often broadly defined, so it is important to carefully consider whether an injury or illness may be work-related. For example, a salesperson injured while traveling from one appointment to another is often considered to have suffered a workplace injury. Likewise, an employed painter or bricklayer working on remodeling project is typically covered by workers compensation laws as well.
If you or a family member suffers an injury while on the job, it is important to discuss the matter with someone focused on relevant areas of the law. At our firm, we offer an initial consultation with a Minnesota work injuries attorney free-of-charge and without obligation. To ask your questions, or to learn more about our legal services, please contact us.
Contact A Mankato Workers' Compensation Lawyer Today
Contact the law office of Chesley, Harvey & Carpenter today at (507) 625-3000 for a free case review. We are located in Mankato, Minnesota.