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Observations on accident rate trends in major industry groups follow.
In agriculture, the employment decline and large productivity
growth rate would be expected to encourage decline in injury and fatality
rates over time; yet between two peak years, 1973 and 1979 the injury rate
actually increased by 0.5 percent, and the fatality rate (which is already
the highest of all industry divisions) declined less than that of any
other industry division. All farms with 10 or fewer workers (about 90
percent of all farms) are exempt from OSHA enforcement by a congressional
appropriations provision first enacted in 1974 and incorporated into
annual appropriations bills since.
Traditionally construction has the highest injury rate (and the highest
lost workday case rate) of all industry divisions.
Between 1973 and
1979 it had the third highest increase in employment. Meanwhile, it was
the only major industry group whose productivity rate actually declined.
This is the industry which has the greatest concentration of OSHA enforcement.
Considering that in 1983 construction was the target of 49 percent of
all OSHA inspections, while it has only 4 pecent of all OSHA-covered workers,
one would expect injury reductions to show up here to the extent that
OSHA activity is capable of reducing injuries.
In fact, construction
had the highest decrease in injury rate of all major industry groups.
However, its decline in fatality rate ranked fourth.
38-659 O - 84 - 11
Manufacturing has as encouragements toward a healthy reduction in
accident rates a very small increase in employment and a moderate produc
tivity growth rate.
This sector had the second highest concentration of
OSHA activity of any industry division.
In addition, many of the major
causes of accidents in manufacturing are susceptible to reduction according
to studies reported on pages 13 and 14.
One would expect manufacturing to have
experienced one of the highest decreases in accident rates.
In fact, it
experienced the second highest decline in injury rate, after construction,
but the second lowest decline in fatality rate
all six industry
Transportation and Public Utilities
In this industry a large proportion of the injuries and fatalities
involve motor vehicles.
The 55 mph speed limit instituted in the early
1970s may have helped reduce accidents somewhat.
This industry's statistics
may reflect the fact that OSHA workplace standards are unable to assist
in reducing injury and fatality rates involving motor vehicles. Partially
as a result of these factors, the Transportation and Public Utilities
industry has decreased its fatality rate moderately and its injury rate relatively little over the years studied.
The wholesale and retail trade division has experienced the second
largest growth in employment, and one of the lowest growths in productivity.
As with the transportation industry it is possible that the 55 mile-per-hour
speed limit may have helped the decline in fatality rate somewhat.
any event, this industry has experienced the second largest decline in
fatality rates (after services) and the second lowest decline in injury
The services division includes a miscellany of industries such
as automotive repair, business services, health and legal services.
the highest decline in fatality rate of all industry groups, but the
third lowest decline in injury rate.
The specific cause of this decline
in fatality rate is difficult to trace, since the industry is so
Data for Graphs on Occupational Injury and Fatality Rates,
1972-1982 (p. 2 and p. 16)
1/ Rates per 100 full-time workers. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Division of Periodic Surveys, annual press releases.
Source: National Safety Council.
2/ Rates per 100,000 workers.