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.

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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.

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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


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Data for Graphs on Occupational Injury and Fatality Rates,

1972-1982 (p. 2 and p. 16)

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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.

Facts, 1983.


Data for Graph of All Injury Rates, by Industry, 1972-1982

(Rates per 100 full-time workers p. 25)

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Periodic Surveys. Occupational Injuries and Illness in the United States, by industry, annual bulletins.

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