Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A study on injuries

I recently received a copy of a study of workplace injuries. It is available in a summary form, but the full report is here. It made for interesting reading. I am chagrined that this July 2013 study has just made it to the top of my reading list. Time flies when you are having fun I guess. 

Unfortunately, the report notes that data is not available for all states. The report analyzes data from 41  states and the District of Columbia, for 2011. I was disappointed that Florida is one of the few states that is not included in the study, but I find the analysis interesting nonetheless.

The report is focused on the occurrence and severity of injury. There is discussion of injuries that are fatal and injuries that are not fatal but serious, described as result in "job transfer or restriction" (whether temporary or permanent). The states with the greatest frequency injuries/illness that resulted in days of  job transfer or restriction per 100 full time employees were Maine, Indiana, California, Kansas and Wisconsin. The five jurisdictions at the bottom (least) of this list in this category were Alaska, Louisiana, Hawaii, District of Columbia and New York. In addition to the variations among states, the study also illustrates variation between the public and private sectors within states.

The report states that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ten occupations with the highest rates of fatal injuries are related to fishing, logging, aircraft piloting, refuse collectors, roofers, structural iron/steel workers, farmers/ranchers, drivers, electrical line workers, and taxi drivers/chauffeurs. I seems that these jobs would be reasonably represented in every state. Therefore, though Florida is not included in the study, one might reasonably infer these are the same or similar here. 

For non-fatal injuries, the most "work threatening" occupations across the country (measured by the rates of injury that result in "job transfer or restriction," (per 100 full time private employees) were amusement park/arcades, animal slaughtering, beverage manufacturing, foundries, nursing care facilities, alcoholic beverage wholesalers, motor vehicle/trailer body manufacturing, hog/pig farming, motor vehicle manufacturing, community care facilities, and poultry/egg production. Some of these seem intuitive, with significant lifting, twisting, etc. 

This report illustrates that different states have different experiences with work-related injuries and/or illnesses. It suggests that over a million Americans each year suffer a an injury that results in one day of missed work, or more. There are about 317 million people in the United States. About 243 million are in the working population. So the 1 million who are injured and miss at least one day of work amounts to about one-tenth of one percent. In that context, it sounds better perhaps, but a million people is a significant amount. It is about the population of Jacksonville, Florida. 

Workers' compensation is a vast system. Because of the nature of our federalist system, it is an amazingly diverse system based on the individual states' laws and regulations. Each state will undoubtedly face individual challenges, and each system will have distinctions and differences. All of the states will have some similarities. But reading about the overall statistics is interesting reading. The full report is here

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