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Work injuries and illnesses decline in manufacturing sector.

Work injuries and illnesses in the manufacturing sector of American business declined in 1991, according to the latest data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The incidence rate for total cases reported changed from 13.2 in 1990 to 12.7 in 1991. The lost workday cases incidence rate fell from 5.8 to 5.6.

The incidence rate represents the number of injuries and illnesses, or lost workdays, per 100 workers. The rate is calculated by the formula (N/EH) x 200,000. N equals the number of injuries and illnesses, or lost workdays, and EH equals the total hours worked by all employees during the calendar year. 200,000 is the base for 100 full-time equivalent workers (working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks a year).

For all manufacturing, the rate for nonfatal cases without lost workdays also dipped from 7.3 in 1990 to 7.1 in 1991. However, there was a small increase in the lost workdays incidence rate from 120.7 to 121.5. This indicates that while there were fewer accidents and illnesses during 1991, they tended to be slightly more severe.

Experts believe that the drop in overall incidents was due mainly to reduced manufacturing activity in 1991. This is likely because studies have shown that new employees tend to have the most accidents and with lower business activity, hiring rates go down.

In the metalcasting industry, the reported figures do not show the same downward movement. An analysis of the metalcasting industry figures shows a Jekyll and Hyde scenario. Some figures are up and some are down.

Ferrous foundries showed an upturn in total cases and in nonfatal cases without lost workdays but did show improvement in lost workday cases and in lost workdays.

Nonferrous foundries were down in all categories, yet aluminum foundries and aluminum diecast shops showed increases in the number of lost workday cases.

The accompanying chart gives figures for all manufacturing and for the metalcasting industry for the past three years. Graphs showing the 10-year trends for total cases and lost workday cases for all manufacturing, gray iron foundries and aluminum foundries are also included.

Gray iron and aluminum foundries were selected for graphing for two reasons. They are categories for which a full 10-year history are available and they are the major components of the ferrous and nonferrous sectors of the industry.

The charts show that the 10-year trends are virtually identical in all cases. The big increase shown in all the charts between 1986 and 1988 can be attributed to the fact that it was during that period OSHA began fining large amounts for improper recordkeeping. After that, incidence rates went up across the board.

The trend lines both before and after the two-year rise tend to run pretty flat, indicating that not much is happening in manufacturing or the metalcasting industry in the way of improved safety and health management.

What is disquieting about the metalcasting figures is the fact that they run 1-1/2-2 times the manufacturing rates.

A companion way of looking at safety and health management is to look at what is happening to workers' compensation costs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that the average annual cost per employee for all manufacturing fell from $412 to $396 from 1989 to 1990. The American Foundrymen's Society reported these costs rose from $1355 in 1990 to $1503 in 1991.

This means that the average foundry is spending almost four times what the average manufacturing plant is spending on workers' compensation costs - more than $1000 a year more for each employee.

What would saving $1000 annually per employee mean to your operation's bottom line?
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Ulbert, Charles
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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