The quest for meaningful and accurate occupational health and safety statistics

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from

For much of its 130 year history, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)1 has collected data and published reports on occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. From the beginning, BLS has engaged in ongoing efforts to improve the breadth and accuracy of the data available for end users. As far back as 1912, the Occupational Safety and Health Statistics (OSHS) program published annual reports on work injuries and illnesses.2 Two of the more recent annual reports are from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), which began with publishing 1972 data in 1974,3 and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), which began with publishing 1992 data in 1994.4 The SOII covers nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses, and the CFOI covers fatal work-related injuries. In 2013, the SOII estimated that there were 3,007,300 occupational injuries and illnesses among private industry workers, a rate of 3.3 per 100 full-time equivalent workers. This was down from a rate of 5.0 a decade earlier. Likewise, CFOI data identified 4,585 fatal work injuries in 2013, down from 5,575 in 2003. BLS is continually improving collection methods to ensure that occupational injury, illness, and fatality data are accurately tracked.

The OSHS program has seen many new developments. The program has adapted to changes to the structure of jobs among American workers—moving from field to factory to office—and changing workplace safety regulations. This article…

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