OSHA has just released the statistics for 2010 and the news is good. For the seventh year in a row the number of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses has dropped. From 5% in 2003 it has steadily declined to 3.5% in 2010 as the chart below illustrates.
While one might be tempted to conclude that the drop has to do with the fact that fewer people are working as a result of the economy, the numbers are based on the number of people who are employed full-time not the number of people in the USA. In other words the 3.5 means that of people who are working full-time 3.5 out of 100 had a recordable injury or illness not 3.5% of the population in general.
Of additional interest is the fact that “The incidence rate of illness cases alone remained relatively unchanged in 2010, as did rates among all illness categories with the exception of poisoning, whose rate increased from 0.2 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2009 to 0.3 cases in 2010.” This would lead us to conclude that the decline wasn’t related to better health or fewer viruses going around but to fewer accidents due to increased education and vigilance as well as better products and PPE that are designed to prevent injuries.
One other point that jumped out at me as I looked through the data was chart 3, shown below that shows that almost across the board (except in days of job transfer or restriction only cases) the private sector by far outperformed state or local government. One would hope that OSHA would pay attention to these numbers and make 2012 a year of focusing on government workers as a way to drop the number even more.
You can download the complete report in pdf format here.