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Tag Archives: Workplace safety and health

Reaching out to Stakeholders—and Steakholders—in Philadelphia

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has staff around the country who serve several critical roles:

  • Contacting employers and households to collect the vital economic information published by BLS
  • Working with partners in the states who also collect and review economic data
  • Analyzing and publishing regional, state, and local data and providing information to a wide variety of stakeholders

To expand the network of local stakeholders who are familiar with and use BLS data to help make good decisions, the BLS regional offices sponsor periodic Data User Conferences. The BLS office in Philadelphia recently held such an event, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

These Data User Conferences typically bring together experts from several broad topic areas. In Philadelphia, participants heard about trends in productivity measures; a mash-up of information on a single occupation—truck drivers—that shows the range of data available (pay and benefits, occupational requirements, and workplace safety); and an analysis of declines in labor force participation.

Typically, these events provide a mix of national and local data and try to include some timely local information. The Philadelphia conference included references to the recent Super Bowl victory by the Philadelphia Eagles and showed how to use the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator to compare buying power between 1960 (the last time the Eagles won the NFL Championship) and today.

We also tried to develop a cheesesteak index, a Philadelphia staple. Using data from the February 2018 Consumer Price Index, we can find the change in the price of cheesesteak ingredients over the past year.

Ingredient Change in Consumer Price Index, February 2017 to February 2018
White bread 2.5 percent decrease
Beef and veal 2.1 percent increase
Fresh vegetables 2.1 percent increase
Cheese and related products 0.8 percent decrease

Image of a Philadelphia cheesesteak

These data are for the nation as a whole and are available monthly. Consumer price data are also available for many metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia. These local data are typically available every other month and do not provide as much detail as the national data.

While the Data User Conferences focus on providing information, we also remind attendees the information is only available thanks to the voluntary cooperation of employers and households. The people who attend the conferences can help us produce gold standard data by cooperating with our data-collection efforts. In return we remind them we always have “live” economists available in their local BLS information office to answer questions by phone or email or help them find data quickly.

Although yet another Nor’easter storm was approaching, the recent Philadelphia Data User Conference included an enthusiastic audience who asked good questions and left with a greater understanding of BLS statistics. The next stop on the Data User Conference tour is Atlanta, later this year. Keep an eye on the BLS Southeast Regional Office webpage for more information.

Recent Improvements to BLS Occupational Safety and Health Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported on workplace safety for much of its 134-year history. Current data have their origins in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and program revisions made in the early 1990s. In the past year, BLS has revamped the way it releases workplace safety information, streamlining the approach to reduce confusion and make information available sooner.

Each year BLS publishes information on fatal work injuries from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and nonfatal work injuries and illnesses from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. BLS recently modernized the data release for both programs.

Before 2016, BLS released two sets of fatal injury data—preliminary and final. Preliminary data were typically available in August or September following the reference year; final data were available as many as 8 months later. This two-step release made it difficult to understand changes from year to year. Widespread publicity surrounded the preliminary release. Some users compared newly released preliminary information with the previous year’s final information. The release cautioned readers not to compare final and preliminary figures, but that was what readers wanted to do. By the final release, the publicity surrounding the data largely had faded.

Our review of the fatal injury program revealed that much of the updated information was available within a few months of the preliminary release. We decided to eliminate the preliminary data release and instead provide a single, final set of data each year in December. While this delayed the information for a few months, it lessened confusion and made final data available many months earlier than in the past. We released fatal work injury information for 2015 in December 2016 and 2016 information in December 2017.

A chart showing fatal work injuries in the United States from 2003 to 2016.

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Before 2017, BLS released two sets of nonfatal data from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. We first released summary information highlighting the number and rate of nonfatal injuries by industry. We later released detailed data about a subset of workplace injuries that resulted in days away from work. Summary information has been available from the survey since the early 1970s. When BLS added the detailed data in the early 1990s, we released them separately from the summary information because we could not complete the estimation until several months after the summary data came out.

In recent years, we have been able to complete the detailed case estimates within a few weeks of the summary information. The closeness of the two releases often confused people about which data were available when. Further, the two sets of information complement each other. As you learn about the number or rate of injuries by industry, you are naturally curious about the details. Which occupations? What was the nature of the injury or event that resulted in the injury? How long is the injured employee away from work?

Beginning with 2016 data, we combined all information on nonfatal injuries and illnesses into a single release published on November 9, 2017. From the information available that day, you learn there were roughly a half-million recorded injuries and illnesses in the manufacturing industry. About one in four of them resulted in days away from work. Further, about 35,000 days-away-from-work cases in manufacturing resulted in sprains, strains, or tears, and 15,000 resulted in cuts or lacerations. The median number of days an injured manufacturing worker spent away from work was 9 days.

By combining information in this way, BLS and data users can develop stories about the circumstances surrounding worker injuries and identify opportunities for prevention.

A chart showing the number and rate of nonfatal work injuries and illnesses by industry in 2016.

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

To learn more, see our Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities homepage.

Number of fatal work injuries by employee status, 2003–16
Year Wage and salary Self-employed             Total
2003 4,405 1,170 5,575
2004 4,587 1,177 5,764
2005 4,592 1,142 5,734
2006 4,808 1,032 5,840
2007 4,613 1,044 5,657
2008 4,183 1,031 5,214
2009 3,488 1,063 4,551
2010 3,651 1,039 4,690
2011 3,642 1,051 4,693
2012 3,571 1,057 4,628
2013 3,635 950 4,585
2014 3,728 1,093 4,821
2015 3,751 1,085 4,836
2016 4,098 1,092 5,190
Incidence rates and numbers of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by private industry sector, 2016
Private industry sector Incidence rate Number of cases
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 6.1 58,300
Transportation and warehousing 4.6 210,200
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 4.4 58,600
Health care and social assistance 4.2 585,800
Manufacturing 3.6 449,800
Accommodation and food services 3.3 279,900
Retail trade 3.3 395,900
Construction 3.2 203,500
Wholesale trade 2.8 157,100
Real estate and rental and leasing 2.7 51,100
Administrative and waste services 2.3 119,500
Other services (except public administration) 2.3 73,300
Utilities 2.1 11,500
Educational services 2.0 37,500
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 1.5 10,100
Information 1.3 32,500
Management of companies and enterprises 0.9 20,300
Professional and technical services 0.9 71,600
Finance and insurance 0.6 30,800
Note: The incidence rate is the number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time equivalent workers.

Workplace Fatalities of Older U.S. Workers, Including Baby Boomers, Reach Historic High

We have a guest blogger for this edition of Commissioner’s Corner. Caleb Hopler is an economist in the Office of Safety, Health, and Working Conditions at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Baby Boomer” is a term for Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Most Baby Boomers are now age 55 and older. Workplace safety for these older workers is reflected in counts and rates of fatal occupational injuries.

Workers aged 55 and older had the highest rate of fatal work injuries among all age groups in 2016, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The rate for workers age 65 and older—9.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers—was notably higher than the rate for all workers (3.6).

Rate of fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers by age, 2016

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Workers age 55 and older accounted for 36 percent of all fatally injured workers in 2016, although workers in this age group comprised just 23 percent of all workers in 2016. The 1,848 deaths among workers age 55 and older in 2016 is the highest ever recorded for this age group since we began reporting national data in 1992.

These fatally injured employees worked in many different occupations: 29 percent in transportation and material moving; 15 percent in construction and extraction; 14 percent in management; 9 percent in installation, maintenance, and repair; 6 percent in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; 5 percent in farming, fishing, and forestry; and the rest in other occupations.

Top occupational groups for workers age 55 and older who suffered fatal work injuries in 2016

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

We also collect the event or exposure, which describes the manner in which the fatal injury occurred. More workers die from transportation incidents than any other event, while fires and explosions have the lowest counts. Of the 773 fatal injuries from transportation incidents in 2016, 135 workers were pedestrians fatally struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment. Roadway collisions with at least one other vehicle resulted in 219 worker deaths. Another 116 workers were killed in a roadway collision with an object other than a vehicle, which could include trees or barriers.

Falls, slips, and trips resulted in 426 fatal injuries to workers age 55 and older in 2016, second only behind transportation incidents. Within this category, 313 workers died from falls to a lower level. These include falls due to collapsing structures or equipment, through a surface or existing opening, or from objects or structures (such as trees, stairs, or roofs).

Fatal occupational injuries to workers age 55 and older by event

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

In 2016, the total number of deaths among workers of all ages was at an 8-year high of 5,190. This was a 7-percent increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015. The 2016 fatal injury rate, 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, was the highest since 2010.

For more information on fatal occupational injuries in the United States, see the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities homepage. You can get data from our data page and profiles system. We also have interactive charts, a longer set of tables and charts, and state data.

Rate of fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers by age, 2016
Age Rate
16 to 17 2.1
18 to 19 1.9
20 to 24 2.4
25 to 34 2.5
35 to 44 3.1
45 to 54 3.5
55 to 64 4.7
65 and older 9.6
Top occupational groups for workers age 55 and older who suffered fatal work injuries in 2016
Occupation Number
Transportation and material moving 539
Construction and extraction 277
Management 252
Installation, maintenance, and repair 170
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance 115
Farming, fishing, and forestry 100
Fatal occupational injuries to workers age 55 and older by event
Event or exposure 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Transportation incident 673 658 659 720 772 773
Falls, slips, and trips 285 295 304 395 344 426
Contact with objects and equipment 236 263 233 250 276 288
Violence and other injuries by persons or animals 203 220 190 195 179 227
Exposure to harmful substances or environments 67 50 68 92 70 90
Fire or explosion 36 32 29 34 33 35

Labor Day 2017 Fast Facts

Since 1884, ten years before President Grover Cleveland signed the law designating “Labor Day” as the first Monday in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has been providing gold-standard data for and about American workers.

In honor of Labor Day, let’s take a look at some fast facts we’ve compiled that show the current picture of our labor market. 

Working

Working or Looking for Work

  • The civilian labor force participation rate—the share of the population working or looking for work—was 62.9 percent in August. The rate has generally been trending down since the early 2000s, although it has leveled off in recent years.

Not Working

  • The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in August. The rate has shown little movement in recent months after declining earlier in the year. The last time the unemployment rate was lower was in 2000 and early 2001.
  • In August, there were 1.7 million long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more). This represented 24.7 percent of the unemployed, down from a peak of 45.5 percent in April 2010 but still above the 16-percent share seen in late 2006 and 2007.
  • Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers was 13.6 percent in August, while the rates were 4.1 percent for adult men and 4.0 percent for adult women. The unemployment rate was 7.7 percent for Blacks or African Americans, 5.2 percent for Hispanics or Latinos, 4.0 percent for Asians, and 3.9 percent for Whites. 

Job Openings

Pay and Benefits

  • Average weekly earnings rose by 2.8 percent between July 2016 and July 2017; adjusted for inflation, real average weekly earnings are up 1.1 percent during this period.
  • Paid leave benefits are available to a majority of private industry workers, where the access rates were 68 percent for sick leave, 76 percent for vacation, and 77 percent for holidays in March 2017.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of private industry workers participated in employer-sponsored medical care benefits in March 2017.

Productivity

  • Labor productivity in nonfarm businesses increased 0.9 percent in the second quarter of 2017. Although productivity is growing at a historically slow pace since the Great Recession, the manufacturing sector recently posted the strongest productivity growth in 21 quarters, growing 2.5 percent in the second quarter of 2017. 

Safety and Health

Education

  • Occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry made up 21 percent of employment. This educational category includes registered nurses, teachers at the kindergarten through secondary levels, and many management, business and financial operations, computer, and engineering occupations.
  • For 11 of the 15 occupations projected to grow the fastest between 2014 and 2024, some postsecondary education is typically required for entry.

Unionization

Work Stoppages

  • Over the past four decades, major work stoppages (a strike or lockout) declined approximately 90 percent. From 1977 to 1986 there were 1,446 major work stoppages, while in 2007–16, there were 143.

From an American worker’s first job to retirement and everything in between, BLS has a stat for that! Want to learn more? Follow us on Twitter @BLS_gov.

Most Dangerous Jobs?

TV shows like Dangerous Jobs, Deadliest Job Interview, Ax Men, and Deadliest Catch vividly portray some of the most dangerous jobs people have. Here at the Bureau of Labor Statistics we produce data about dangers in the workplace, or workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Our list of occupations with high fatal injury rates (on page 19) is often used externally as a list of the “most dangerous” jobs. However, at BLS we strongly believe there is no one measure that tells which job is the most dangerous. Why is that?

A graphic showing the 3 occupations with the highest death rates.

For starters, there is no universal definition of “dangerous” or “hazardous.” There are many other elements that factor into any definition of a “dangerous job,” such as the likelihood of incurring a nonfatal injury, the potential severity of that nonfatal injury, the safety precautions necessary to perform the job, and the physical and mental demands of the job.

It’s also difficult to accurately measure fatal injury rates for occupations with fewer workers.

BLS has certain minimum thresholds that must be met for a fatal injury rate to be published. So, fatal injury rates are not calculated for many occupations that have a relatively small number of fatal work injuries and employment.

A graphic showing the 3 occupations with the highest number of deaths.

Take the occupation elephant trainer*, for instance. Because few workers are employed as elephant trainers, a small number of fatal injuries to elephant trainers would make the fatal injury rate extremely high for a single year, despite their low number of deaths. On the other hand, in most years, this occupation incurs no deaths, rendering their fatality rate 0 and ranking them among the least at risk for incurring a fatal injury.

BLS provides the data to help people, from policymakers to businesses and workers, better understand hazards in the workplace. However, we can only talk about what our data show, such as the number of deaths and fatal injury rates of different occupations. We have to leave it to others to analyze or rank the danger of particular jobs.

*“Elephant trainer” is a hypothetical occupational classification. The classification BLS uses groups these workers with either “artists and performers” or “animal caretakers,” both of which include many more people than just elephant trainers.