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Lost-time injuries, illnesses total 1.3 million in 2003

A total of 1.3 million injuries and illnesses in private industry required recuperation away from work beyond the day of the incident in 2003, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The three occupations with the greatest number of such injuries and illnesses were laborers and material movers; heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; and nursing aides, orderlies and attendants.

Sprains and strains, most often involving the back, accounted for 43 percent of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work in 2003. When sprains and strains, bruises and contusions, cuts and lacerations, and fractures are combined, they accounted for nearly two-thirds of the cases with days away from work.

Acting OSHA administrator Johnathan Snare said the data -- along with the 7 percent decline in workplace injuries and illnesses from 2002 to 2003 that BLS reported last December -- "validates OSHA's policy of targeting outreach and enforcement resources where they will have the most impact. This data tells us our strategic management plan is on the right track".

Selected highlights from the report, which was released March 20, include:

  • Of the major occupational groups, transportation and material moving occupations reported the most days away from work due to injuries and illnesses.
  • Heavy truck drivers suffered a large portion of their injuries due to transportation accidents and falls.
  • 91 percent of the 56,820 injured nursing aides and related workers were women--suffering predominantly from sprains and strains to their truck due to overexertion related to lifting or moving patients.
  • Injuries and illnesses to workers 25 to 54 years old accounted for almost three-quarters of all injured workers, about the same as their share of hours worked in 2003. Workers 20 to 24 years old and workers 55 to 64 years old had 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively, of the injuries and illnesses.
  • Men accounted for 65 percent of the total cases with days away from work--which is higher than their share of hours worked.
  • Employees with one to five years of service with their employer accounted for 37 percent of all injuries and illnesses sustained, higher than their 31 percent share of employment.
  • The 8 a.m. to noon period accounted for 30 percent of all injuries and illnesses with days away from work. The noon to 4 p.m. period accounted for an additional 23 percent of the cases.
  • Injuries and illnesses with days away from work were evenly distributed between Monday and Friday.
  • Injuries to the shoulder resulted in the longest absences from work--a median of 18 days, followed by injuries to the wrist--a median of 17 days.