Advocates for workers' rights believe that workers should not have to worry about getting injured while on the job. Even though many agree with this idea, a workplace injury is hard to avoid completely. Residents of Philadelphia may know this as well as residents of any other city in the nation.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 3.1 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses. Though it may seem like a lot, the good news is that the number is smaller than the 3.6 million cases that occurred in 2009. The rate per 100 full-time workers dropped from 3.6 cases in 2009 to 3.5, a slight decline but a step toward more safety.
Nearly 95 percent of the injuries and illnesses from 2010 were injuries, and more than half of the reported incidents required multiple days for the affected individual to recover, a sign that those injuries were more serious. Also known as DART cases, this occurred at a rate of 1.8 cases per 100 workers.
Breaking it down by industry shows that most saw a decline in their associated injury rates. The social assistance and health care industry dropped from 5.4 cases to 5.2, but was the only one to see an increase in the average number of hours worked. The financial activities, goods production, information and service industries all saw declines in injuries as well.
The only industry that saw an increase was manufacturing, from 4.3 cases per 100 workers in 2009 to 4.4 cases in 2010.
In order to indicate safety areas that employers need to work on, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released the top 10 most common safety citations from 2011. The top three were fall protection, with 7,139 violations; scaffolding, with 7,069 violations; and hazard communication, with 6,538 violations.
And of course any worker injured on the job through no fault of their own can hold employers accountable for safety violations. While the decrease in injuries is good news, it does not hide the fact that far too many injuries are still occuring.
Source: ThomasNet News, "10 Most Common Workplace Safety Violations," Brian Lane, Jan. 17, 2012