Restricted Work Due to Workplace Injuries: A Historical Perspective: In Anticipation of Upcoming Data on Worker Characteristics and on Case Circumstances Surrounding Workplace Injuries That Result in Job Transfer or Restricted Work, New Tabulations Look at Trends in the Outcome of Workplace Injuries over the Past Several Decades
Ruser, John W., Wiatrowski, William J., Monthly Labor Review
The proportion of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the United States that resulted in job transfer (the injured worker continues to be at work but performs a different set of duties) or restricted work (the injured worker performs less strenuous duties) has grown steadily over the past several decades, especially during the 1990s. Today, close to 60 percent of the most severe cases in private industry include at least some days of job transfer or restricted work, with the remainder resulting exclusively in days away from work. In contrast, when such data were first reported in the early 1970s, soon after the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, cases involving only job transfer accounted for less than 5 percent of all severe cases. This article uses available data to investigate the growth of cases resulting in job transfer or restricted work (or, simply, restricted-work cases). The discussion sets the stage for the expansion of data to include detailed information on the circumstances and worker characteristics of restricted-work cases. Such information is scheduled to be released for the first time in 2013. (1)
Employers selected to participate in the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, the Bureau), must maintain a record of their workplace injuries and illnesses that is based on definitions developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Recordable workplace injuries and illnesses are those which result in any of the following outcomes:
* Loss of consciousness
* Days away from work beyond the day of the incident
* Restricted work or job transfer
* Medical treatment (beyond first aid)
In addition, any significant diagnosed work-related injury or illness is recordable, as are certain special cases, such as needle-sticks.
Identifying cases of injury or illness
Fatal work injuries, while recordable under OSHA rules, are tabulated separately by the Bureau through the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. In the case of nonfatal injuries and illnesses, recordable cases are classified into three broad categories for data collection and publication:
* Cases with days away from work
* Cases with only job transfer or restricted work
* Other cases (those with neither days away from work nor days of job transfer or restricted work).
The first two categories combined represent the most severe cases; together, these cases are referred to as "cases with days away, restriction, or (job) transfer," or, acronymically, DART cases. Cases are classified as cases with days away from work if the worker is away from work for at least 1 day; such cases also may have days of job transfer or restricted work. Cases are classified as cases with job transfer or restricted work if the worker incurs at least 1 day of job transfer or restricted work and no days away from work.
In 2002, changes to the rules for employer recordkeeping led to changes in both terminology and concepts. Previously, the broad category of DART cases was known as cases with lost workdays, or simply lost-workday cases. Also, cases with only job transfer or restricted work were known as cases with restricted work activity, or restricted-work cases. Conceptual changes included (1) identifying certain types of injury cases for inclusion in or exclusion from recordkeeping, (2) handling recurring cases, and (3) counting days away from work on the basis of calendar days rather than workdays. (2)
Data presented in this article generally include an indication of where any breaks in series occur, such as the vertical line at 2002 appearing in most of the charts. (See, e.g., chart 1, which shows the historical trends in types of cases of occupational injuries and illnesses from 1975 to 2009. …