As we enter the new year, we can help to provide safer working conditions by observing the biggest problems in workplace safety from the prior year.
To that end, OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics release annual data on workplace illnesses, missed workdays, occupational injuries and other safety mishaps. Here are seven of the most shocking safety statistics from 2013 – as well as pointers on how you can prevent similar problems at your own company.
1. Employers Reported Over 3 Million Nonfatal Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
That's an incidence rate of 3.3 cases per 100 full-time workers! Worse still, the incidence rate among state and local government workers was 5.2 cases per 100 workers. While both of these aggregated figures represent decreases from 2012, we can all do more to keep our employees healthy and safe.
2. Nearly 2.9 Million Were Injuries
Over 2.1 million of those injuries happened in service industries, which comprise over 82 percent of the private workforce. Certain service jobs may be inherently risky – particularly those in the healthcare field – but a comprehensive look at prior incidents can help administrators prevent the same problems from occurring time and again.
Using a safety management database that includes incident investigation and reporting software makes this much easier.
3. Goods-Producing Employees Suffered the Most Occupational Illnesses
At a rate of 27.6 incidents per 10,000 full-time workers, these workers had a greater frequency of occupational illnesses than employees in any other industry. Hearing loss had the highest rate for any individual condition, at a rate of 7.4 per 10,000. Factories may be loud, but providing workers with better hearing protection and enforcing its use could go a long way in preventing these problems in the future.
4. Occupational Illnesses Accounted for 5 Percent of Nonfatal Incidents
The rate of occupational illnesses (which includes respiratory conditions, poisoning, hear loss and skin conditions or disorders) seems low in comparison to the rate of injuries. However, this rate did not significantly change from 2012 to 2013, neither in the aggregate nor for individual issues. The fact that there’s been no improvement is an indication safety managers could do a better job of implementing preventive measures.
In addition to providing and enforcing hearing protection, they need to ensure workers are taking the proper precautions to protect themselves from dangerous chemicals, which could be a factor in several of these illnesses. That includes making sure their safety data sheets are in order and workers are using the right personal protective equipment when using each type of chemical.
5. State Nursing and Residential Care Facilities Had the Highest Rate of Injuries
Nursing and healthcare employees at state-run facilities had the highest rate of nonfatal occupational injuries, at 13.6 per 100 workers in 2012 and 13.7 per 100 in 2013. They also had the highest rate of cases causing missed days of work: 8.4 per 100 in 2012 and 8.7 per 100 in 2013. Other OSHA reports suggest back injuries may be the chief concern in these cases, with shoulder issues a close second. Safety managers in this field may be able to reduce the injury rate for healthcare workers by providing movement advice and personal safety equipment to help employees lift and support patients with minimal strain.
6. The Manufacturing Industry Continues To Improve
For the 16the consecutive year, manufacturing was the only private industry in which there were more job transfer or restriction cases than cases involving days away from work. Moving forward, this industry may serve as a good example to others when it comes to minimizing incidents that cause significant physical harm.
7. 4,405 workers died on the job in 2013
While that figure does represent a vast improvement over the estimated 14,000 annual worker deaths 43 years ago, it's not good enough.
Workers shouldn't have to fear for their lives as they earn a living, and there are plenty of ways for company decision-makers to cost-effectively create safer working conditions.
Good safety management starts by getting organized. Safety management software that allows you to keep all your important documents in one place can help you take a holistic approach to safety that involves the entire workforce.
To help companies have a safer 2015, we’re allowing new users to try all nine of our safety software tools for just $50 per month for 90 days. To take advantage of this special, limited-time offer, contact us today.