Workers’ Health Gets Some Good News


The Bureau of Labor Statistics published its report on fatal workplace accidents from 2011 data, showing that the number of these accidents declined.  This follows reports on accidents requiring a leave from work and minor accidents, both of which also declined in 2011.  While on the face of it this might not be good news for the Seattle chiropractic community, it does show that both employers and workers are becoming more assertive about preventing accidents.


The decline was minimal.  The total number of workplace deaths in 2011 was 4,609, compared with 4,690 deaths in 2010.  However, there were also more workers in 2011, resulting in a rate of 3.5 fatal accidents per 100,000 workers in 2011 compared with a rate of 3.6 fatal accidents per 100,000 workers in 2010.


In contrast to the overall trend, the trucking industry saw a 14% increase in fatal injuries.  The rates of fatality also increased among African American and Hispanic American workers, while they were down 3% for non-Hispanic whites.


About 17% of all workplace fatalities were the result of violence.  In total, violence claimed the lives of 780 American workers, including 458 homicides.  Perhaps because of trying economic times and deep issues in the financial sector, there were also 252 suicides.


Overall, however, this report reinforces what other Bureau of Labor Statistics accident reports have indicated:  that the American workplace is getting safer.  This is largely due to the significant efforts by major employers to reduce workplace injuries, which includes coaching employees on best practices and increasingly stringent requirements for using protective gear.


It is also true that, over the past 20 years, the chiropractic industry has gained a much higher level of recognition as a legitimate medical profession.  As it has, more working Americans have sought out chiropractic care for minor aches and pains and have begun to use chiropractic as a basic element of their preventative care strategy.


Those who see a chiropractor with some degree of regularity are more likely to correct minor problems before they cause an injury.  They are also more likely to be aware of how to protect themselves while working, including the proper form to use while lifting, bending, or even sitting in front of a computer.  This awareness is probably the best way to avoid workplace accidents, and so the overall decrease in the rates of workplace accidents might be, to some extent, the result of chiropractors.


Certainly, the Seattle chiropractic community has been highly assertive in its outreach in recent years, teaching computer industry workers proper posture and stretching techniques to minimize the likelihood of injury.  Hopefully, as the BLS begins publishing 2012 data at the beginning of next year, we will continue to see declines in workplace injuries of all types.


The author Justin

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