Industrial accidents include all injuries and occupational diseases suffered by workers that arise from,
and occur during, the course of gainful work performed in all industries. Injuries to domestic employees and injuries connected with the performance of farm household tasks are classified as home injuries. Disabling injuries to workers are classified in order of seriousness as follows: deaths, permanent total disabilities, permanent partial disabilities, and temporary total disabilities (loss of one or more days’ time following the day of injury).
A fifth category embraces medical treatment and first-aid cases that do not result in absence from work following the day of injury. National Safety Council figures show that in 1970 industrial accidents were responsible for 14,200 deaths and 2 million disabling injuries. From 1960, the death rate for the U.S. has declined by 14 percent.
The time lost from industrial accidents is divided into three categories:
Time lost by injured workers during the year of injury.
Time lost by injured workers in future years.
Time lost by noninjured workers because of accidents.
In 1970, injuries to workers resulted in a total of 245 million man-days lost, 45 million of which were attributed to workers with disabling injuries. Time lost in future years from 1970 accidents was estimated at 135 million mandays. Accident costs include wage insurance adm inistrative losses, costs, medical costs, and the value of time lost by noninjured workers.
Excluding all property losses, costs in 1970 totaled $8 billion. Recent reports concerning manufacturing industries reveal that skin diseases, chemical burns, and eye irritations are the leading work injuries and that chemicals are the primary causal factors. Injuries caused by intense heat and respiratory disorders also account for a significant number of hospitalized cases requiring serious medical attention.
Information compiled on workers handling silicates, asbestos, and similar materials shows that cases of silicosis, asbestosis, and other forms of pneumoconioses may not become apparent until many years after the initial exposures. There is widespread agreement that continuous medical surveillance should be afforded to workers in industries with long-term hazards. Processes using radiant energy are also being studied for the purpose of evaluating possible delayed effects. The 91st Congress passed an Occupational Safety and Health Act that took effect April 28, 1971. The act empowers the U.S. government to create compliance standards and to cite violations and dictate penalties. A National Institute for Occupational Safety has been established to engage in research and to initiate experimental projects designed to combat hazards in industry.
More than 7 out of 10 injuries from accidents occur in and around the home. We seem to damage ourselves most on electrical fixtures, bicycles, heating systems, tools, nails of all shapes and sizes, tables, beds, kitchen utensils—particularly knives, and stairs.