Workplace injuries in California see little change in 2016

California’s rate of nonfatal workplace injuries has remained steady after years of declines.

The rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses among California's workers changed little in 2016. As the Sacramento Bee reports, nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses ticked down just slightly in 2016 to 3.7 cases per 100 workers from 3.8 in the previous year. While it is certainly good news that nonfatal workplace injuries are declining, the fact that those declines seem to have stalled is frustrating. Furthermore, some workers, especially construction workers and maintenance workers, continue to experience higher than average injury rates.

Declines in workplace injuries stall

Since 2002, California has seen a dramatic drop in nonfatal workplace injuries. In 2002, for example, the rate of nonfatal injuries was six per 100 workers. By 2013, that rate had dropped to 3.8 per 100 workers. Since 2013, however, there has been little change in the rate of workers suffering from injury or illness. As mentioned above, in 2016 the rate ticked only slightly downwards to 3.7.

Furthermore, the rate of "lost time" cases, whereby workers are kept away from work or are prevented from performing their usual occupational tasks due to a workplace injury or illness, did not decline. That rate remained at 2.2 per 100 workers, which it has been at for the past four years.

Not all workers enjoy safety gains

While it is certainly a good thing that California enjoys one of the lowest rates of workplace injuries in the nation, it is frustrating that those gains seem to be diminishing in recent years. Furthermore, it is important to remember that in many industries there is plenty of room for improvement. The statistics, for example, show that cleaning and maintenance workers had the highest rate of days away from work, at 284.2 cases per 10,000 workers. Installation, maintenance and repair workers came second, at 251.9 per 10,000 workers, followed by construction workers, at 242.7 cases per 10,000 workers.

Furthermore, as 89.3 KPCC points out, while California has strong workplace safety laws, it is still falling behind when it comes to enforcement. Cal-OSHA has just 216 inspectors for the entire state, meaning that it would take 181 years for the agency to inspect every workplace in California just once.

Representation for injured workers

A workplace injury can be devastating, not just because of the pain and suffering it may involve, but because of the fear that an injury will lead to time off work and a serious squeeze on an injured worker's finances. Fortunately, workers compensation exists to protect workers in the event that they have been injured or fallen ill due to a work-related circumstance. A workers compensation attorney can help injured workers find out what compensation may be open to them and how to go about making an effective claim that is most likely to succeed.