Workplace injuries are a major problem and can result in permanent injury and the loss of working ability. In 2013, workers missed an average of eight days of work because of workplace injuries. But according to a new survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational injuries and illnesses are on the decline, and have actually been trending downward for the last 13 years.
In 2015, private employers reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There were three reported cases of injuries per every 100 full-time workers, the lowest recorded rate since 2002.
“We are encouraged to see the significant decline in worker injury and illness rates,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “This is the result of the relentless efforts of employers, unions, worker advocates, occupational safety and health professionals, and federal and state government agencies ensuring that worker safety and health remains a top priority every day.”
OSHA says that they will continue to work to drive the rate down — despite the progress made, workplace injuries still number in the millions.
OSHA, which was created more than 40 years ago, has recently shifted to focus more on reporting. The agency says that it is concerned that employers under-report incidents, and that employees are afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation.
Indeed, currently OSHA’s record-keeping rule — which includes anti-retaliation provisions in regards to safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing — is being contested in federal courts by business groups.
But there is no doubt that the overall trend is positive. Most employers want to comply with safety standards, for the benefit of their reputation and the well-being of their workforce.