Comparing old and new statistics on workplace injuries and illnesses
January 25, 2005
In 2002, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented a number of changes in the definitions of injury and illness cases recorded by employers. The new definitions in turn resulted in changes in occupational injury and illness statistics provided by BLS.
When the first data from 2002 were released in late 2003, BLS discouraged year-to-year comparisons, due to differences between the 2002 data and data from previous years. Nonetheless, data users are interested in the relationship of 2002 data to data from past years.
As an example, the chart shows the six industries that recorded 100,000 or more cases of occupational injuries in 2002. This compares with nine such industries in 2000 and eight in 2001. The six industries with the greatest number of injuries were the same for those 3 years, although not in the same order.
Hospitals became the industry with the greatest number of injuries in 2002, exceeding eating and drinking places, which had been the industry with the highest count nearly every year since BLS began presenting data in this way in the late 1980s.
Among the six industries shown, there were variations in the numbers of cases between 2001 and 2002 that could be the result of recordkeeping changes. For example, hospitals may report more cases due to changes in reporting requirements related to needle sticks. The many recordkeeping changes may have affected specific industries in a variety of, and perhaps offsetting, ways.
These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. For additional information, see "Occupational injury and illness: new recordkeeping requirements," by William J. Wiatrowski, Monthly Labor Review, December 2004.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Comparing old and new statistics on workplace injuries and illnesses on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2005/jan/wk4/art02.htm (visited April 27, 2015).