FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2001-01
Tuesday, January 9, 2001

CONTACT:
Dean Fryer
(415) 703-5050


Workplace Injuries at Record Low in California

SAN FRANCISCO -- Job-related nonfatal injury/illness rates in 1999 continued to decrease, reaching a record low of 6.3 workers injured out of every 100, reports the California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Labor Statistics and Research. This is the lowest rate since collection of workplace injury and illness statistics began in 1971.

The injury/illness rate decreased from 6.7 per 100 workers in 1998 to 6.3 in 1999, while employment increased 3 percent.

The greatest declines in job-related injuries were in agriculture and construction: injuries and illnesses declined by one per 100 agriculture employees and 0.7 per 100 construction employees. This decrease is due in large part to the Cal/OSHA inspection programs targeting agriculture and construction. The programs are designed to decrease the number of injuries suffered by employees working for general building contractors and for farms producing crops.

"Targeting employers in the highest-hazard industries such as construction and agriculture has proved that employers with workplaces containing the highest proportions of fatalities, injuries, illness and workers' compensation losses often benefit the most from Cal/OSHA's assistance," said Stephen J. Smith, director of the Department of Industrial Relations.

The Cal/OSHA Consultation Service also has assisted employers in providing a safe work environment. The consultation service works cooperatively with industry and labor to improve safety and health conditions in workplaces by offering on-site assistance, participation in safety seminars and incentives for employers who improve safety and health at their worksites.

Of the eight major industries only one - finance, insurance and real estate - recorded an increase in injuries and illnesses, up from 2.7 per 100 workers to 3.1. However, the number of lost workdays due to injuries and illnesses declined from 3.3 to 3.1 days per incidence.

Of the nonfatal occupational illnesses reported, 56 percent were disorders associated with repeated trauma, which is a workplace ergonomics issue.

The workplace injury/illness rate is a statistic that counts nonfatal accidents and exposures caused on the job. For copies of statistical tables for the 1999 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in California, visit the department's Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlsr/injuries/1999/menu.htm.

# # #