Even though workplace injury rates were flat from 2009 to 2011, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries decreased in industries that have strong OSHA enforcement, such as manufacturing, construction and service sectors.
Industries where OSHA has limited jurisdiction – including small businesses, state and local governments and agriculture – saw increasing rates, suggesting that the presence of OSHA significantly can reduce the occurrence of workplace injury.
“OSHA is pleased that, in 2011, the work-related injury rate decreased among private-sector workers employed in the manufacturing, construction and service sectors, which is the focus of most of OSHA's activities,” noted the BLS report.
The private-sector rates of 3.5 injuries or illnesses per 100 workers in 2011 was identical to the year before and nearly identical to the 2009 results, varying just 0.1 percentage points below. Ninety-five percent of all 3.8 million injuries were from private-sector occupations.
State and local government workers sustained significantly higher injury rates: 5.7 injuries and illnesses for every 100 workers, which was the same rate in 2010 and only 0.1 percentage points below 2009.
Many workers don’t know that regardless of the industry in which they work or whether they work in the public or private sector, they have the right to:
- Communicate any safety concerns to OSHA or their employer without retaliation or discrimination.
- Receive training and/or information pertaining to hazards related to their jobs.
- Review safety-related information that OSHA has retained about their jobs and/or employers.
OSHA encourages workers to bring safety matters to the attention of a supervisor as soon as possible. If the matter is not attended to in a timely fashion, workers are encouraged to file a complaint with OSHA.
Very often, safety issues are not fixed unless an employee speaks up. Don’t be afraid to let your employer know of any safety issue you consider dangerous. You might save a life – it could even be your own.
Let’s work together to make 2013 a safer year for everyone at work.
About Michael Pines: Michael Pines founded the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC, in San Diego in 1992. He is an accident and injury prevention expert in San Diego, and he is on a campaign to end senseless injury one blog at a time.