Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sprains, strains, and tears most frequent time-lost work injury

April 12, 1999

In 1996, approximately 44 percent of all occupational injuries and illnesses in the United States involving days away from work were sprains, strains, and tears. Although the number of sprains, strains, and tears fell between 1992 and 1996, such injuries have remained a relatively constant proportion of the total number of cases.

Sprains, strains, and tears....
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By industry, services accounted for the largest share of such injuries in 1996, followed by manufacturing, retail trade, and transportation and public utilities. By occupation, operators, fabricators, and laborers had the highest share of such injuries.

Overexertion was the major event or exposure for over half of all sprains, strains, and tears; the back was the part of the body most often affected. Containers and worker motion were the two leading sources of such injuries, each accounting for approximately one-fifth of the cases. The median number of days away from work for sprains, strains, and tears was six, or one day more than the median for all injuries and illnesses.

These data are a product of the BLS Safety and Health Statistics program. Additional information is available from "Putting a Strain on Workers’ Health" (PDF 26K), Compensation and Working Conditions, Spring 1999. Sprains, strains, and tears are defined as traumatic injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints caused by sudden wrenching, twisting, stretching, and ripping. The classification does not include tendonitis or bursitis, illnesses that generally occur over time as a result of repetitive activity.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Sprains, strains, and tears most frequent time-lost work injury at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/apr/wk2/art01.htm (visited December 04, 2021).

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