According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), injury and illness rates are at an all-time low. In fact, these rates have shown a steady decline for more than a decade. The latest full set of statistics available, from 2014, shows that 3.2% of workers in private industry experienced a work-related illness or injury. This is a full 1.8% drop when compared to 2003. A Crystal Lake worker compensation lawyer would be pleased to know that all of their work defending their client's right to lost wages and other benefits has also encouraged the private sector to make going to work much safer.
The most significant yearly drop in total number of cases came between 2008 and 2009, with a 0.3% reduction. Between 2013 and '14, a single tenth of a percentage point drop converted into over 50,000 fewer cases of workers in the private sector getting sick or hurt. Workers should be encouraged that speaking up about an injury or sickness not only can help themselves, but help to add even more reasons for their employees to provide a safe workplace for everyone.
Comparing the Public and Private Sector
Public employees are often involved in more high-risk areas of work. Police and fire protection are both dangerous areas of work that usually show up in the top ten most dangerous professions. It makes sense that the injury and illness rates for the public sector would be higher than in private enterprises. For example, the injury and illness rates for state workers was 4.1% in 2014. At the local level, where work in fire services and police protection are more concentrated, the rate was 5.4%.
So, while public employees often have access to certain benefits that the private sector does not offer, working for state or local government can be riskier. Working at the local level is definitely the most risky, with four of every five injury and illness reports from the public sector happening there.
Illinois is One of the Safer States for Workers
Illinois residents can be proud that their state is the safest for workers in the Midwest, according to the BLS statistics. The percentage of total cases in Illinois was below the national average, and much better than several of its neighboring states. In 2014, 2.8% of workers in the Illinois private sector were hurt or got sick at work. Illinois is surrounded by states with injury and illness rates above the national average. For example:
- Wisonsin and Iowa have rates of 3.9%
- Minnesota and Michigan are tied at 3.6%
- Indiana has a rate of 3.7%.
Even in Missouri, where the rate is right near the national average, workers stand a higher chance of being hurt or having a workplace illness.
Although not all states reported data, of those that did Louisiana had the lowest rates of illness and injury in its private industry. At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and Maine both have rates much higher than the national average, at 5.0 and 5.3%, respectively.
Go Big or Stay Small: What's Safer?
Just as rates vary between the public and private sector or from one state to the next, the size of a business also affects the likelihood of an employee to suffer an injury or illness at work. The stats show that an employee of a large company is much more likely to need the help of a Crystal Lake worker compensation lawyer. In fact, the risk of illness or injury on the job is more than doubled at medium-sized businesses, where rates are the highest.
Small businesses with only 1-10 employees have seen their rates stay very low over the last five years. In 2014, just 1.5% of small business employees reported an illness or injury on the job. Medium-sized companies with between 50-249 employees had the highest rates, at 3.9%. Fortunately this is a drop from 2010, when their total number of cases was half a percentage point higher. This drop hold true for really large companies too, like those employing more than 1,000 workers.
There are a large number of factors that figure into the possibility of a worker being injured or becoming ill on the job. Certain types of industries like the medical profession, which involves lots of lifting and being around sharp objects and illness all through the work day, make it more likely that an employee will become one of the BLS statistics. What is important is that across all industries and regardless of location, employers have the obligation to provide a safe place to work. Obviously some do this better than others. When they fail to do so, workers often need the help of someone like a Crystal Lake worker compensation lawyer.