Examining 25 Years of Worker Injury, Illness, and Fatality Case Data Part 3
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for establishing and instituting policies governing safe and healthful practices in the workplace. In this three-part series, we have been examining 25 years of worker injury, illness, and fatality case data to help illustrate employer shortcomings and propose solutions for overcoming these oftentimes deadly obstacles.
In part one, we discussed how the number of work-related fatalities has decreased over the last 25 years. We also detailed the vulnerability of temporary employees and what happens after a nonfatal injury takes place in the workplace. In part two, we discussed some industry-specific issues before shedding light on the safety challenges for older workers and foreign-born workers. Now, an OSHA attorney will wrap up this article with more interesting data related to workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.
The Most Pervasive Injury of 2016: Back Injuries
Of all workers who missed days of work due to a work-related injury, 17 percent were reportedly related to back injuries making it the most pervasive type of injury in 2016. Hand injuries were the second most common type of injury, accounting for roughly 13 percent of cases. Here’s the breakdown:
- Eyes: 22,030
- Back: 154,180
- Shoulders: 70,240
- Hands: 118,400
- Knees: 74,240
But let’s break into those pesky back injuries specifically to get a better idea of the types of actions that lead to these common workplace injuries:
- Strains: 90,120
- Soreness: 32,300
- Sprains: 11,530
- Bruises: 3,920
- Fractures: 2,320
Clearly, back injuries stemming from strains and soreness control the majority, which means acts such as bending down, lifting, and carrying heavy objects are some of the most common work-related actions that lead to injury.
Common Nonfatal Injuries Typically Involved Overexertion or Contact with Objects or Equipment
According to OSHA’s case data, the most common causes of workplace injuries that resulted in days away from work were overexertion and unintentional contact with objects or equipment. However, these injuries have experienced a sharp decrease since 1992 when over 1 million cases of overexertion were reported. Recent reports reflect an estimated 70 percent decrease in these injuries. Injuries from contact with objects also decreased from 638,000 cases in 1992 to 233,000 in 2016. Other sources of nonfatal injury included exposure to harmful substances, falls, slips, trips, fires and explosions, transportation incidents, and workplace violence.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Remain a Pressing Concern
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for approximately 32 percent of nonfatal workplace injuries in the private sector that required time off in 2016. These injuries are generally associated with repetitive motion and overexertion. While the volume of these injuries has decreased significantly between 2003 (when OSHA started tracking MSDs) and 2016, they are still one of the most common types of injuries hindering workers today.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.