FROM: Jesse Maxwell, Advocacy & eLearning Program Manager, SWANA
TO: SWANA Chapter Safety Ambassadors; Safety Committee
DATE: November 8, 2019
SUBJECT: 2018 BLS Injury & Illness Data
On November 7, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the 2018 employer-reported injury and illness data showing an increase in the solid waste collection employee incident rate and reductions for employees at solid waste landfills and material recovery facilities (MRFs).
The 2018 collection injury and illness rate was 5.9 incidents per 100 full time equivalent (FTE) workers, rising from 5.2 in 2017. The rate for employees at solid waste landfills fell significantly from the previous year and is now at 3.9 incidents per 100 FTE compared to 5.3 in 2017 and 4.9 in 2016. This is the second lowest rate for landfills in the last thirteen years.
The incident rate for MRFs was 4.9 incidents per 100 FTE workers, compared to 9.8 in 2017. While this appears to be a large decrease, SWANA previously consulted with a BLS representative who stated that the number of incidents reported in 2017 was small enough that the increase then was considered “statistically insignificant”. For the nine years of MRF data available from BLS, the incident rate averaged 6.53.
For collection workers, the median number of days away from work as a result of a nonfatal injury or illness was 13 days compared to a national average of 8. The most common event or exposure was “overexertion and bodily reaction” with the most common injury or illness being sprains, strains and tears. The body parts most commonly affected included the back, hands and ankles.
At landfills, slips, trips and falls were the most common injury-causing event followed by overexertion and bodily reaction, with sprains, strains and tears as the most common injury reported. MRF workers also had slips, trips and falls as the most common event and fractures as the highest reported injury.
BLS reports nationally there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2018, unchanged from 2017. The incidence rate for total recordable cases (TRC) in private industry also remained unchanged from a year ago, the first year since 2012 that the TRC rate did not decline.
SWANA will continue to review the BLS injury and illness data and provide further analysis as necessary. Results from the 2018 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. At that time SWANA will issue a press release and send another Safety Alert.
cc: David Biderman