Online Program

Understanding the survey of occupational injuries and illnesses and concerns about completeness

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

William Wiatrowski, Office of Compensation and Working Conditions, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC
The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the primary nonfatal workplace injury surveillance system in the United States. SOII data are captured annuallly from a sample of private employers and State and local governments, who are required by law to maintain records of workplace injuries and illnesses during the survey year, based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules. After the end of the year, data are compiled by BLS, which publishes injury counts and rates, and worker and case details for more severe injuries. Concerns about completeness of the SOII data stem from several issues, including definitions (which differ from workers' compensation and other systems), employer knowledge of these definitions, reports of employees who are reluctant to report injuries, reports of employers who do not maintain accurate records, and lack of SOII coverage for certain worker groups, such as the self-employed. Congressional hearings in the late 2000s led to funding for BLS to research certain issues surrounding the completeness of occupational injury and illness data. Research includes comparing SOII and workers compensation data to determine what cases SOII might be missing; compiling data from multiple sources to enumerate all work injuries (not just those defined by OSHA); and interviewing employers about their knowledge of injury recording requirements. The results, provided in the subsequent sessions, identify some undercounting in SOII, challenges to large scale multi-source enumeration of work injuries, and variation in employer knowledge regarding work injury recording.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Describe research recently completed to help understand the completeness of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). This portion of the session will describe the SOII, identify past concerns about the completeness, and identify research efforts undertaken by the BLS.

Keyword(s): Statistics, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Associate Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I have been in charge of all activities related to the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illness for the past 10 years. I served as a technical reviewer of research proposals that led to the selection of the various research projects and investigators who are participating in this 90-minute session.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.