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US Occupational Injury Rates Lower

The Department of Labor announced this week that the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses in the United States declined in 2006 to the lowest level since statistics started being recorded in the early 1970s. This is the fourth year in a row of declining rates. OSHA conducted 38,000 inspections, and the decline is attributed to both OSHA’s efforts and the foresight and safety consciousness of private employers. The American Society of Safety Engineers released a press release claiming a share of the credit. “Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses” were 4.4 cases per 100 workers in 2006.

Critics point out that the downtrend may not be what it seems as OSHA has changed the definition of injuries and illnesses over the years. Earlier this year researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that a substantial portion of the decline in injury rates can be attributed to changing definitions of injury.

In a somehat related matter the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health is suing the New York City government to get information on injury and illness claims by city workers.