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January 9, 2002

Washington worksites continued safety trend in 2000

Continuing a trend begun almost 10 years ago, Washington workers suffered slightly fewer injuries and illnesses in 2000 than they did the previous year, according to survey results released today by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries.

The overall 2000 workplace injury and illness rate indicates that Washington workplaces were safer than 1999. The continuing drop in the numbers means that Washington workplaces were almost 25 percent safer in 2000 than they were in the early 1990s.

Despite the continuing improvement, however, Washington workers still suffer job-related injuries and illnesses at a higher rate than the national average.

"Once again, we're able to announce that this encouraging trend is continuing, and hopefully gaining momentum," L&I Director Gary Moore said. "Yes, we're getting better, but we still have work to do."

The survey showed that 8.3 out of every 100 full-time workers in Washington suffered a job-related injury or illness in 2000, down from the 8.9 rate posted in 1999. This rate was as high as 11.3 in 1992. Since that time, there has been a continuous trend of steady improvement.

Moore said that credit for this downward trend should be shared by Washington employers and workers who recognize the importance of workplace safety and health, and make it a priority on their worksites.

"Safe and healthful worksites don't just happen," he said. "Protecting workers requires diligence and commitment."

The national rate - which includes only private-sector employees - was 6.1 per 100 full-time workers in 2000. Washington's private-sector rate was 8.5. per 100 full-time workers.

Overall, 3.5 per 100 Washington workers were seriously enough injured or became ill enough to require time off from work or modified duties to recover. That number was 3.7 in 1999.

All major industries except the finance, insurance and real estate category reported improved numbers in 2000. In construction, for instance, the injury and illness rate dropped from 15.0 in 1999 to 14.4 in 2000.

As in the past, the construction industry's 14.4 rate accounted for the highest incident rate among all industries. Manufacturing, with a 11.1 rate, was next, followed by agriculture's 10.9 rate. The industry breakdown:

Industry 2000 1999 1998 1997
Construction 14.4 15.0 15.5 17.3
Manufacturing 11.1 12.1 13.2 13.5
Agriculture 10.9 11.3 12.9 11.2
Transportation 9.2 9.6 10.1 10.4
Wholesale Trade 8.7 9.2 9.3 9.6
Retail Trade 8.4 8.8 9.8 9.3
State & Local Government 7.7 8.2 7.9 8.1
Mining 4.8 5.7 6.7 6.7
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 2.5 2.3 2.2 2.8

Another breakdown shows that those businesses employing between 50 and 249 workers had the highest injury rate, continuing a historic pattern. The breakdown:

Year 1-10 workers 11-49 50-249 250-999 1000+
2000 5.6 8.0 9.3 7.6 6.1
1999 5.8 8.6 10.3 7.2 6.8
1998 5.2 9.0 10.7 8.6 7.3
1997 7.2 9.7 10.7 8.6 7.0

The numbers, the most current available, were provided through a survey of approximately 6,200 randomly selected Washington employers in cooperation with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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