A report released by the Oklahoma Department of Labor showed a 20 percent reduction in 2003 in the number of workers requiring time off to recover from workplace injuries. The latest figure further supports the benefit of workplace safety programs, according to Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau.
Soft tissue trauma was the leading cause of lost workday injuries and illnesses in 2003 for every major sub-industry category, according to statistics gathered by the Oklahoma Department of Labor. As in 2001 and 2002, sprains and strains accounted for about 43 percent of all incidents in 2003.
The positive change is that the actual number of recorded incidents fell 20 percent, totaling 5,700 in 2003 compared with 7,154 in 2002. Of these, 36 percent affected the trunk with about 20 percent identified as back injuries. Upper extremities (wrist, hand, finger) accounted for 21 percent of cases while lower extremities (knee, foot, toe) recorded 22 percent of all incidents.
One-third of all incidents involving days away from work (32.9 percent) required in excess of 31 days to recover from a workplace injury. The average injury involving lost work time resulted in 12 days away from work.
Of the 13,450 job-related injuries and illnesses involving days-away-from-work, the Service Providing Sector accounted for 71 percent while the Goods Producing Sector recorded 29 percent.
Two sub-industry categories in the Service Providing Sector topped the list in 2003 for injuries involving days away from work. Trade, Transportation and Utilities accounted for 28 percent while Education and Health Services recorded 20 percent. Manufacturing, a sub-industry category in the Goods Producing Sector was third at 19 percent, about the same as in 2002.
Overexertion retained the top spot as the primary cause for workplace injuries involving days-away-from-work. Despite a 24 percent decline from 2002, overexertion accounted for 26.5 percent or 3,570 of all lost-time injuries.
As in 2002, the second leading cause of lost-time injuries (19.6 percent) was contact with objects and equipment. The 2,640 “contact” incidents recorded in 2003 is a 37 percent reduction from the 4,181 incidents in 2002.
Reneau attributed the reduction in workplace injuries requiring days of in part to an increased focus on workplace safety. “The state OSHA Consultation program Safety Pays has a proven track record of reducing injuries and lowering workers’ compensation costs,” she said.
The Safety Pays OSHA Consultation service is provided to employers through a 90 percent federal/10 percent state funding match.