Workplace injuries and illnesses continue to decline in number. Regulations, though, are on the rise.
Workplace injuries and illnesses remain on a steady decline.
Private employers reported approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015. That translates into a rate of three cases per 100 equivalent full-time private industry workers, all according to the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In general, injuries are down by about 48,000 since 2014. The BLS reported that this continues a pattern of annual declines that began 13 years ago and has mostly been consistent (the lone exception was 2012), according to its Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).
Of the approximately 2.9 million private industry injury and illness cases reported in 2015, nearly 2.8 million (95.2 percent) were injuries. Nearly 2.1 million (75 percent) of those injuries occurred in service-providing industries, which employed 85.2 percent of the private industry workforce.
Workplace illnesses accounted for 4.8 percent of that 2.9 million and occurred at a rate of 14.6 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.
The decline in workplace injury and illness might come as a relief to small business owners, especially as new regulation takes effect that will make small business owners report their workplace injuries and illnesses electronically.
The Occupational and Safety Hazard Administration’s final rule on the publication of data on workplace injuries and illnesses began taking effect with initial requirements on Aug. 10. The new rule applies to any business with at least 250 employees in an industry currently subject to OSHA record-keeping rules, as well as any business with between 20–249 employees in industries including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and some retail.
OSHA claimed this new rule would “nudge,” or pressure, businesses into making workplaces safer for their employees, according to The Hill.
Many business groups, however, argue that how OSHA plans to organize and share the data they will receive is unclear. Business groups worry that the data “could paint a misleading picture of [a small business’s] safety record, since these numbers will be reported without context,” The Business Journals reported.
Workplace safety is extremely valuable, but NFIB is skeptical of the burden that the regulatory paperwork will have on small businesses—and the litigious environment that could be created in response to the reporting increase.