Nursing homes and hospitals are dangerous places to work

WASHINGTON –  If you want a relatively safe job from injury and illness, don’t work in a nursing home, a hospital or in construction, the latest federal data shows.

That’s because the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those three private industry sectors had the highest rates of job injuries and illnesses last year.

Overall non-fatal job injuries and illnesses declined slightly from 2014 to 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, to three injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time private sector workers last year, down from 3.2/100 in 2014. But there are several caveats.

One big one is the injury rate for those three leading sectors: One of every eight nursing home workers (12.1 injuries/100 workers) was hurt on the job, as were one of every 12 hospital and construction workers.

Another is that working for local government is 70 percent more hazardous than working for private industry. Of local workers, 5.1/100 were injured on the job in 2015, compared to 3.7/100 for state workers and 3/100 overall. Including those government workers in the national data pushes the U.S. overall rate to 3.3 injuries per 100 workers.

BLS pointed out one reason may be the mix of jobs: Local governments employ fire fighters, police, nurses and teachers. Nurses and first responders are more likely to be injured.

Some 2.9 million private sector workers suffered job injuries and illnesses which caused them to miss time last year, down 48,000 from the year before. And 752,600 state and local government workers, out of a total of 18.4 million missed time due to injuries and illnesses.

There was no particular pattern in the 2015 data on which states had higher rates of job injuries and illnesses. Top ailment rates were in Maine (4.8 injuries and illnesses/100), Vermont (4.6/100), Washington state (4.4/100) and Montana (4.3/100). The lowest rates were in D.C. (1.6/100), Louisiana (1.9/100), Texas (2.3/100) and Virginia (2.4/100).

Other factors that could affect the figures include underreporting and the mix of industries in various states. For example, the oil patch states of Texas and Louisiana were aided by the low rates of injuries and illnesses in that sector (0.7/100).

And “some conditions that are difficult for employers to relate to the workplace are not adequately recognized and reported during a calendar year,” BLS noted. They include ”long-term latent illnesses” such as black lung disease.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.