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Workplace Injuries And Illnesses Decrease, DOL Says

The number of workplace injuries and illnesses has declined, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) expects the reductions to continue.

There were 500,000 fewer job-related injuries in 2001 than in the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of 5.7 injuries per 100 full-time employees reflects an 8 percent drop in cases, said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.

Good News

"The decline in workplace injuries and illnesses is good news for America’s working men and women, their families and their employers," Chao said. "Workplace injuries and illnesses have dropped for the ninth consecutive year, reaching an all-time low."

Although statistics for 2002 are still under review by DOL, the department expects the results to indicate a continued reduction, she added.

The focus on injury prevention and reduction by worksite wellness professionals deserves much of the credit for the improvements, she noted. The number of construction injuries has dropped and there has been a 10 percent reduction in repeated trauma injuries, such as carpel tunnel syndrome and other musculoskeletal disorders, Chao said.

Workplace safety awareness campaigns initiated by health promotion experts and organizations, such as the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), also contributed to the decrease in job-related injuries and illnesses, Chao added.

Safety Equals Productivity

Workplace safety also plays a prominent role in workplace productivity, Chao said.

"Building a safer workplace is a driver in productivity gains," she noted. "Improving health and safety results in significantly better productivity and quality. Executives and employees are all better-motivated. Caring about the health and safety of employees or caring about product quality inspire productivity improvements."

DOL has recognized that "it is important for us to continue to explore the connection between productivity and safety," Chao said, adding that wellness professionals are valuable sources of information for workplace safety initiatives.

New Year Brings New Commitment

DOL has renewed its commitment to further reduce the number of workplace injuries, according to Chao.

"While we are encouraged by this news, much remains to be done," she said. "One injury or illness is one too many. As we approach the coming year, we are renewing our commitment to reducing workplace injuries and illnesses. And we are asking our partners — employers, trade associations, labor unions, safety and health professionals and others — to join in renewing their commitments as well."

Address: U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC 20210; (202) 219-5000, www.dol.gov.


© 2003 Health Resources Publishing