Rates of serious workplace injury and illness vary significantly between states—even for workers in the same industries—according to a recent report released by Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation. The report is based on data obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The new report, “Allsup Study of Workplace Injuries,” spotlights the most work-threatening industries by location, based on the rates of injuries that are serious enough to involve “days of job transfer or restriction.”
“At a time when nearly 9 million workers are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits—many of whom were originally injured on the job—this report should draw attention to the widely varying rates of worker injury across states,” said Mike Stein, Allsup assistant vice president of claims. “In this new study, Allsup drills deeper into the data to show not just which industries are responsible for the most serious injuries, but where.”
The report opens with a chart and map that show the differing injury rates between states. The states with the highest rate of workplace injuries that involve days of job transfer or restriction are:
Maine – 1.4 injury or illness cases with job transfer or restriction per 100 workers
Indiana – 1.1
California – 1.0
Connecticut, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wisconsin – 0.9
Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington – 0.8
These states all have rates higher than the national average of 0.7 injury or illness cases with job transfer or restriction per 100 workers.
Allsup drilled further into the issue by building a database using workplace safety data that the BLS reported from 41 states and the District of Columbia in 2011. Allsup’s database can be used to quickly search for and present direct comparisons of injury rates across states and industries, which otherwise are difficult to find.
Allsup’s report includes information on the 11 industry groups with the highest serious injury rates nationwide:
Amusement parks and arcades – 3.2 cases involving job transfer or restriction in 2011 per 100 workers
Animal slaughtering and processing – 3.1
Beverage manufacturing – 2.7; Foundries – 2.7
Nursing care facilities – 2.6
Beer, wine, and distilled alcoholic beverage merchant wholesalers – 2.4
Motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing – 2.3
Hog and pig farming – 2.2; Motor vehicle manufacturing – 2.2; Community care facilities for the elderly – 2.2; Poultry and egg production – 2.2.
The study also reports state-level information showing the variation between locales within the same industry group. For example, serious injury rates in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry group ranged from 1.1 in Tennessee to 3.5 in North Carolina (Michigan equaled the national average at 2.2).
According to Allsup’s research, the state-level industry with the highest rates of serious injury was animal slaughtering and processing in Oregon, with 8.3 cases involving job transfer or restriction per 100 workers in 2011 (U.S. average – 3.1).
State-level data for 2011 are not available for nine states: Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Dakota. However, Ohio recently received a grant to begin participating in the BLS survey.
More than 1 million U.S. workers each year experience an injury that causes them to miss a day or more of work. A recent report from the Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy used statistical sampling to identify injuries as the sixth-leading cause of SSDI claims.
Many claims not filed as injuries involve conditions that can be job related. For example, musculoskeletal conditions make up the largest category of SSDI claims. This group includes impairments such as degenerative back disorders that can be caused or exacerbated by work and severely hamper an individual’s ability to find a new source of employment.
“The injury issue takes on new importance in light of our aging population and the fact that the trust fund supporting SSDI is projected to reach insolvency in just three years,” said David Bueltemann, manager of senior claimant representatives at Allsup. “Allsup’s report should be eye opening for policymakers, workplace safety advocates and Americans who may underestimate their chances of experiencing a disabling injury.”
SSDI provides monthly income to workers who experience a severe, long-term disability expected to last 12 months or longer. The Social Security Administration administers the program, which has stringent requirements to qualify for benefits. Employees pay for this federally mandated insurance coverage through FICA payroll taxes. By 2016, if no changes are made to financing the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, benefits will automatically decrease by an estimated 20 percent.
If you, a family member or friend has been injured at work and would like to talk about the available options, Hank Burriss and Wayne Ridgeway look forward to discussing the case. With offices in Columbia, Orangeburg and Lexington, Burriss and Ridgeway services clients across the State of South Carolina. Visit burrisslaw.com or call (803) 451‑4000 to learn more or schedule a free consultation.