WASHINGTON — Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, today issued the following statement on the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses:
"Today we learned that, in 2013, approximately three million private sector workers in America experienced a serious injury or illness on the job. In this extraordinarily high number, it is easy to focus on the headline and miss the trend line. We are encouraged that the rates continue to decline over the past few years, even during this period of healthy economic growth when we would expect the rate of injuries to rise. The decrease in the injury rate is a product of tireless work by those employers, unions, worker advocates and occupational safety and health professionals all coupled with the efforts of federal and state government organizations that make worker safety and health a high priority each and every day.
"But we cannot ignore those three million workers. The severity of their injuries and illnesses varies widely; some are amputees, some suffer back injuries, while others have to struggle for each breath. Work injuries can instantly pull the rug out from a family striving for a good middle-class life. This is why the work of the Labor Department is so vital, and why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with our partners in both the public and private sector, will maintain our commitment to ensuring that everyone can work in a safe, healthy place."
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Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA reporting requirements will change. Employers will be responsible for reporting all fatal work injuries within 8 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. The agency has also updated the list of industries required to keep injury and illness records.