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Workplace injury and illness rate is declining

Workplaces in Texas and around the country are getting safer. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Oct. 27, the annual number of work-related injuries and illnesses in the United States has been declining for the past 13 years. In 2015, there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal work-related illnesses and injuries reported, or three cases for every 100 full-time employees.

Though the nonfatal workplace injury and illness rate is the lowest that it has been since 2002, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that the rate is still too high. In a public statement, the agency's assistant secretary of labor said that the agency would continue to do everything it could do to bring the number of work-related injuries and illnesses down further. OSHA is currently focused on efforts to compel injury reporting and make workplaces safer for an aging workforce.

Some analysts have pointed out that a decline in work-related injuries and illnesses could have less to do with improvements in workplace safety and more to do with economic factors. A decline in the number of jobs in the oil and gas industry, for example, because of plummeting prices could have led to a reduction in injuries even if no safety improvements were made. Consumer buying habits may also affect injury rates because workers are less rushed and less fatigued when demand is low.

People who have been injured on the job may feel rushed to get back to work because they cannot afford to lose wages. However, workers' compensation benefits can often include partial wage replacement when an injured worker is recovering. An attorney can often assist such workers in seeking these and other benefits that they may be eligible for.

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