NJ CASE CHARACTERISTICS & DEMOGRAPHIC DATA HIGHLIGHTS, 2009

 

Each year, the findings of the annual Occupational Safety and Health Survey are released to the general public in two waves.  This year the first was in October followed by this release in November.  In October, estimates of the number of occupational injuries and illnesses and the incidence rates (the indexed number of cases per 100 full-time workers) were issued.  This portion focuses on injuries and illnesses that resulted in days away from the job, selected demographics of the affected workers and characteristics and severity of the cases.  Worker demographics include gender, age, occupation, length of service with the employer, race or ethnic origin, day of the week, time of event, and the time on the job before the event occurred.  Case characteristics describe the nature of the injury or illness, the part of the body affected, the source of the injury or illness and the event or exposure that caused the injury or illness. The severity of the case is measured by the number of days that were lost from the affected individual’s regular job. New Jersey first participated in this federal-state cooperative program in 1993.  Incidence rates for selected private sector demographic data have been available since 2006.  For the first time since the survey’s inception, government sector incidence rates are available for selected case characteristics and demographic data.  Case characteristic and demographic incidence rates show the number of cases for the selected data element per 10,000 full-time workers.

 

The number of cases of work-related injuries and illnesses that involved days away from work (with or without job transfer or restriction) decreased by four percent to 45,000 cases for 2009, from 46,900 in 2008.  The number of lost time cases reported for 2009 is 23 percent less than the 58,700 cases reported in 2003.

 

Private Sector

 

There were 32,220 cases involving days away from work due to workplace injuries and illnesses in New Jersey’s private sector in 2009.  Since 2003, this figure has decreased by 24 percent.  Lost time cases occurred at a rate of 121.4 cases per 10,000 full-time workers within New Jersey’s private sector.  The following highlights show how the cases involving days away from work are distributed among various characteristics of the injured worker and the injury or illness case.

 

Characteristics of the Injured/Ill NJ Private Sector Worker:

  • Men made up 63 percent of the lost-time cases in New Jersey’s private sector.  The incidence rate for lost time cases among male workers was 133.0 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, which is greater than that of the private sector as a whole.  This means that men sustained injuries involving days away from work more frequently then their female counterparts.
  • Lost time cases among men were also slightly more severe than cases among women.  Men required a median of 9 days to recover from lost-time cases, while women returned to private sector jobs after a median of 7 days recovery.  The overall private sector median days lost was 8 for 2009.
  • Half (50.8%) of the private sector lost time cases affected middle-aged workers – between 35 and 54 years old.  Workers 45-54 years old had the largest percentage of lost-time cases (27.8%) the highest incidence rate (130.1), and required the longest recovery time, with median days lost of 12.
  • New Jersey private sector workers with at least 1 year of service with their employer made up 78 percent of the cases involving days away from work in 2009.  The median days (9) lost due to injury or illness was greatest among workers with 5 or more years of service.
  • Three categories of job titles had the highest incidence rates for lost-time cases. 

Ø      Transportation and material moving occupations (includes hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, as well as heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers) had an incidence rate of 344 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

Ø      Installation, maintenance and repair occupations had a lost-time cases incidence rate of 306.1 cases per 10,000 workers. 

Ø      Healthcare support occupations (includes nursing aides, orderlies, attendants) had an incidence rate of 291.1 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. 

Ø      In all of these occupational categories except healthcare support occupations (median 6 days lost), the median days lost was greater than the private sector average of 8.

  • Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers had by far the highest number (10% of lost-time cases in 2009) of cases involving days away from work within New Jersey’s private sector since 2003.  Four occupations required more than double the private sector average of 8 days away from work to recover from work-related injuries and illnesses.

Ø      Truck drivers, light or delivery services – 24 median days

Ø      Maids and housekeeping cleaners – 23 median days

Ø      Driver/sales workers – 20 median days

Ø      Truck drivers, heavy and tractor trailer – 19 median days

 

Characteristics of the Injury/Illness:

Injuries and illnesses are described by four characteristics – nature of injury or illness, part of body, the source of the injury or illness, and the event or exposure.  These characteristics, when looked at together, give a clear picture of the injury or illness and how it happened.  The nature of injury or illness is the diagnosis or medical finding.  When the nature is combined with the part of body affected, we can see what medical condition has been identified as a result of the accident or exposure.  Examples of common nature/part combinations include sprained back, cut finger, or carpal tunnel syndrome to the nerves in the wrist.  The source of the injury or illness is the object that directly caused the nature of the injury or illness.  The event or exposure describes how the accident happened.  Overexertion in lifting containers and falls to the floor or ground surfaces are common examples of source/event combinations.

  • Sprains and strains are by far the most frequently occurring nature of work-related injury/illness, accounting for 35 percent of the private sector cases with days away from work.  Sprains and strains had a median of 10 days lost per case.  The two natures of injury or illness with the second highest percentage of cases in 2009 were bruises, contusions and cuts/lacerations, each making up 11 percent of cases with days lost.

Natures of injury or illness with high median days away from work were tendonitis (40 days) and carpal tunnel syndrome (26 days), but these two combined make up less than half of one percent of the total private sector cases.

  • The body part most frequently injured in 2009 was the back, making up 20 percent of the private sector cases resulting in days away from work.  Multiple body parts was the second leading part of body injured, accounting for 12 percent of all lost-time cases, while fingers made up 11 percent of all parts injured.  Median days lost for the back was 9 days, just above the average of 8 for all private sector cases.  Finger injuries were less severe, resulting in a median of 4 days lost.  Ankle injuries (24 days) and shoulder injuries (23 days) resulted in the longest absences.
  • The most common sources of injury or illness in 2009 were floors, walkways, and ground surfaces, worker motion or position, and containers, accounting for a total of 46% of the cases involving days away from work.   Floors, walkways, and ground surfaces had the highest percentage of cases (20.5%), and also had the highest median days lost (14) among all of the source categories.
  • More than half (52%) of New Jersey’s private sector cases involving days away from work were caused by contact with objects and equipment or overexertion.  Contact with objects and equipment (29% of lost time cases) includes being struck by an object, a worker who struck him/herself against an object, or who is caught in equipment or an object.  Almost half of the overexertion cases were due to overexertion in lifting.  These injury/illness event categories, which characterize how the accident or exposure happened, resulted in a wide range of median days lost.  Cases caused by repetitive motion made up less than one percent of the private sector lost-time cases, but resulted in a median of 28 days away from work.
  • Results from 2009 work-related private sector injuries and illnesses show that the most common time for an accident was in the morning.  Thirty-one percent of cases involving days away from work occurred between 8 A.M. and noon and 21 percent of cases occurred between noon and 4 P.M.  Furthermore, 23 percent of cases occurred when the affected worker was on the job between 2 and 4 hours before sustaining the injury or illness.  Eighty-seven percent of all private sector lost-time accidents or exposures took place during a weekday.

 

Public Sector – State and Local Government

 

New Jersey’s public sector workers sustained 12,790 cases involving days away from work in 2009.  The number of lost-time cases in state government fell from 3,910 in 2008 to 3,830 in 2009, and the number of local government lost-time cases decreased from 9,060 to 8,960 between 2008 and 2009.  These continuing downward trends in government sector lost-time cases indicate that safety and health prevention efforts are having a positive impact.  A median of 8 days of work were lost by state government workers while local government employees returned to work after a median of 7 days lost due to work-related injuries and illnesses. 

 

The following highlights show how the cases involving days away from work are distributed among various characteristics of the injured worker and the injury or illness case.  While the type of work performed in the public sector is often different from the private sector, many of the worker injury and illness characteristics are similar.  (Incidence rates for government sector demographics data are not available.)

 

Characteristics of the Injured/Ill NJ Public Sector Worker:

  • Men made up half of the state government lost-time cases, while accounting for two-thirds of the local government cases involving lost workdays.
  • Distribution of New Jersey’s public sector cases involving days away from work by age group in 2009 is similar for state and local government.  Workers between 45 and 54 years old sustained the highest percentage of cases, with 29 percent of state government cases and 27 percent of local government lost-time cases in 2009.
  • Government workers who have been with their employer for one year or more made up the majority of public sector cases.  Ninety-four percent of state government lost-time cases affected workers with one or more years of service with their employer.  Sixty-two percent of the lost-time cases in state government were among workers with more than five years of service with their employer.  Local government workers with at least a year of service made up 93% of that sector’s cases involving days away from work in New Jersey.  Injured workers with more than five years of service with their local government employer accounted for 65 percent of the lost-time cases in that sector.
  • State government workers with the highest percentage of lost-workday cases were correctional officers and jailors (16%), psychiatric aides (8%), social and human service assistants (7%), and transit and intercity bus drivers (7%).  Of these three occupations, correctional officers and jailers (37) and transit and intercity bus drivers (18) lost a median number of days that was greater than the overall state government median of 8.
  • Three occupations within local government combined to make up one-third of the cases involving days away from work.  These occupations were police and sheriff’s patrol officers (1,340 lost-time cases), janitors and cleaners (840), and elementary school teachers, except special education (770).  Of these three occupations, only the median days lost for janitors and cleaners (9) was above the overall median of 7 days lost for local government in 2009.

Characteristics of the Injury/Illness:

  • Sprains and strains were the most frequently occurring type of lost-workday cases in both government sectors, making up 37 percent of state government cases with days away from work and 38 percent of local government cases in 2009.  Median days lost for sprains was 16 in state government and 9 in local government – both higher than the average median days lost for the sectors.
  • The back was the most often specified part of body injured within the government sectors, accounting for 16 percent of state government lost-time cases and 17 percent of local government injuries and illnesses with days away from work.  The shoulder was by far the most severely injured part, requiring a median of 41 days away from work to recover within state government and 23 days out before returning to work within local government.
  • The source of the highest percentage of lost-time cases in both state and local government was floors, walkways, ground surfaces, with 25 percent and 24 percent of cases, respectively.  Median days lost for injuries and illnesses caused by floors, walkways, and ground surfaces (14) was higher in state government than the general sector average (all sources combined) of 8. 

Within state government, the second largest percentage of cases with lost time was caused by person, other than worker (22%) – a category that includes health care patients (11% of cases) and inmates (data for this detail level of source is not currently available).  Worker motion or position (16% of cases) was the second most frequently occurring source of injury or illness with lost time in local government.

  • Falls (to lower level or on same level) were the leading cause of state government sector cases, making up 24 percent of both the state and local government sectors’ cases involving days away from work in New Jersey.  Assaults and violent acts by person (17%), contact with object or equipment (17%), and overexertion (16%) combined with falls to make up three quarters of the lost-time cases in New Jersey state government.  In local government, contact with object or equipment (20%) and overexertion (19%) were the injury or illness events that caused the next largest percentage of lost-time cases in 2009.