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Workplace injuries and illness continued to decline in 2015

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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A report by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows a decline in occupational injuries and illnesses reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2015, a trend that has continued for the past 13 years. This doesn’t mean, however, that employers should ease up on safety initiatives. The approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses is still significantly high.

According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, 2.9 million injuries per year “is still far too many. At OSHA, we will continue to do all that we can to continue driving the rate down.”

“I don’t think this report is anything to get too excited over,” Brian Fielkow, J.D., co-author of Leading People Safely: How to Win on the Business Battlefield said in a recent Society for Human Resources Management article. “People shouldn’t shift their focus away from safety simply because things are improving.”

Nearly 2.8 million, or 95.2 percent, of the incidences reported in 2015 were injuries. The remaining 4.8 percent were reported illnesses. Additionally, over half of the reported cases resulted in time off work, job transfers or restrictions.

The national rate is 3 incidences per 100 full-time employees. North Carolina is at 2.6 incidences per 100 full time workers, slightly lower than the national average. The highest rate of reporting states is Maine with 4.6 and the lowest is the District of Columbia with 1.6.

Employers should work to continue this downward trend in accidents, ensuring that lower numbers actually equal less workplace injuries. “Safety, human resources and compliance managers ought to be coaching and training staff and creating safety measures,” Mr. Fielkow said. “But operations has to own safety and be responsible for the execution of safety programs.”