In October, our Montgomery work accident attorneys discussed the release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on fatal Alabama work accidents. The 4,609 people who died in 2011 in workplace accidents represent only a small portion of those who were involved in workplace accidents during the year.
Unfortunately, many more people suffered injuries of varying degrees of severity.
Reviewing BLS data on workplace injuries in 2011 shows that an injury can occur in any field or any location. While some industries such as construction are inherently more dangerous than others, no one is immune from a potential accident on the job. As such, every worker and employer needs to be aware of workplace accident risks and needs to take steps to improve and encourage safety.
Workplace Injuries in 2011
In addition to their data on workplace deaths in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides a report on Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. According to the BLS:
- Almost 3 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses acquired at private sector workplaces were reported in 2011. This means that 3.5 injuries occurred for every 100 full-time workers in the private sector.
- Among state and local government workers, there were approximately 820,900 cases of workplace injury and illness reported in 2011. This means that, on average, there were 5.7 injury cases for every 100 full-time workers. Although this means that the rate of government employees injured is significantly higher than the rate of private sector employees injured, this is not an increase over past years.
- The majority of the injuries suffered by government workers -- almost four out of every five -- were suffered by those employed in local government.
- More than half of the three million injuries suffered in private industries in 2011 were serious enough to require a worker miss at least some days of work.
- The overall rate of injuries and illnesses that were serious enough to lead to restriction or job transfer declined in 2011.
- The rates of illness and injury increased in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. This sector was one of only two private sectors that had an increased number of illnesses and injuries from 2010 to 2011.
- The rate of injuries in both the healthcare industry and the social assistance industry declined, as did the rate of injury in retail establishments including grocery stores.
- Workplace illnesses accounted for around 5.2 percent of the total number of non-fatal workplace injuries. The majority of reports of workplace illness came from goods producing industries.
These statistics also demonstrated clearly that injuries can happen anywhere. Although workers in animal production; workers in beverage and tobacco manufacturing; and couriers and messengers had some of the highest incidents or injury, even merchants and car salesmen were reported to have recordable cases of workplace injury.
While workplace injuries are always going to occur, employers should ensure that they do everything possible to reduce the risk of work accidents. This includes complying with all OSHA regulations and having clear and well-enforced company safety policies.