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Continuing analysis of workplace injuries and illnesses

The U.S. government requires Bergen County employers to keep records about illnesses and injuries among employees. Companies aren't reporting every cold and cough, but they are keeping tabs on how worker health conditions affect the workplace.

The contents of a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report covered the numbers associated with nonfatal health problems among workers, in and out of the private sector, during 2013. More than 3 million illness and injury cases were reported that year in non-government workplaces. The health and safety of government employees fared much worse than their private sector counterparts.

The 2013 incidence rate of illnesses and injuries combined was 5.2 for every 100 full-time employees in local and state government jobs. In the private sector, according to the agency's Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the combined rate was 3.3 cases for every 100 full-timers. Outside of 2012, the incidence rate fell steadily over 11 years for non-government workers.

When injuries were considered alone, the private industry rate fell to 3.1 cases per 100 workers, a slight drop from the previous year. Illness incidence outside the public sector was largely unchanged between 2012 and 2013.

The government agency also learned rates dropped among certain industries including utilities, manufacturing and retail. Manufacturing had the distinction of being the only industry where worker health issues resulted in job transfers and restrictions more often than missed workdays.

New Jersey employers, government agencies and lawmakers look for patterns in statistics. For instance, the noticeable number of illnesses and injuries among public sector employees could indicate government safety precautions are outdated – something lawmakers can study and remedy.

A high number of workplace accidents and injuries also burdens state workers' compensation programs. Workers sidelined by injuries and illnesses depend upon benefits to pay for medical costs and replace lost wages. Attorneys assist employees with the claims process and pursue all other forms of compensation.

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