According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of workplace injuries in America is on the decline. While this good news does not include on-the-job fatalities or government employers, it is still an encouraging statistic.
In the private industry in 2009, there were 3.3 million reported workplace injuries, .4 million injuries less than the number reported in 2008. This number is still high, with a large number of employers and employees facing the consequences of accidents on the job.
For the employee, a work-related injury can have physical and emotional repercussions. A job-related injury can be anything from a head injury to terminal illness after being exposed to dangerous chemicals or bacteria. The injury can affect the employee's family, often straining relationships. There is also stress from a loss of wages, finding a new job, or even facing a permanent disability.
Employers who have reported workplace injuries have to deal with lawsuits and claims for workers' compensation by the employee, not to mention investigations by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration. A citation from OSHA usually results in a fine for the employer, in addition to any costs incurred to ensure that the work environment meets federal safety regulations.
The Department of Labor is encouraging employees to report work-related injuries so that any future incidents can be prevented. Their concern is that employees are actually being discouraged by their employers to report injuries, sometimes as an attempt by the employers to avoid inspections.
Though there is a decline in workplace injuries, there are still thousands of people who are getting injured or sick at work. Completely eliminating workplace injuries is unlikely, but the Department of Labor has the right mindset by trying to prevent as many work-related injuries as possible. It is a step in the right direction.
Source: United States Department of Labor online, "Statement of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis on reported decline in workplace injuries and illnesses," 21 October 2010