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Survey shows slight increase in Minnesota injury, illness rate

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Minnesota’s estimated workplace injury and illnesses rate for 2020 rose slightly from that of 2019. According to the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the state had an estimated 3.5 OSHA-recordable, nonfatal, workplace injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers in 2020; the estimated rate for 2019 was 3.2 cases per 100 FTE workers, the lowest ever recorded since 1973.

The survey estimated Minnesota had 76,700 workers with OSHA-recordable, nonfatal, workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020, compared to 73,600 estimated cases for 2019. There were 17,400 illnesses in 2020 and, of these, 14,500 were respiratory illnesses, including 14,300 COVID-19 cases. In 2019, there were 400 respiratory cases and in 2018, 200.

In 2020, Minnesota’s employment covered by the survey was approximately 2.78 million workers. In 2019, employment covered by the survey was 2.87 million workers.

“These survey results show the importance of employers taking measures to keep the workplace safe from the hazards of COVID-19 and other injuries and illnesses,” said Roslyn Robertson, Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) commissioner. “We appreciate the good-faith efforts employers in Minnesota are taking to provide a safe and healthful workplace for their employees.”

Nationally, an estimated 3,229,200 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in private- and public-sector workplaces for 2020, resulting in a rate of 2.9 cases per 100 FTE workers.

Other results from the Minnesota survey

The industry divisions with the highest total injury and illnesses rates were:  state government health care and social assistance (11.1 cases per 100 FTE workers); private health care and social assistance (7.3); and local government public administration (5.9).

An estimated 34,900 worker injuries, 1.6 cases per 100 FTE workers, had one or more days away from work after the day of injury. In 2019, this rate was 0.9. Additional statistics about the characteristics of the cases with days away from work are highlighted below.

  • The median number of days of work disability for workers with one or more days away from work was 10 days. In comparison, the median number of days away from work was six days in 2019.
  • COVID-19 accounted for 41 percent of all injuries and illnesses. Sprains, strains and tears accounted for 20 percent, followed by soreness and pain (14 percent).
  • The most affected body parts were body systems (43 percent). This is the category that contains the body parts affected by COVID-19. COVID-19 accounted for 97 percent of the body systems. Upper extremities (19 percent) was second and trunk (16 percent) third.
  • The most common injury event was exposure to harmful substances or environments (43 percent). This category includes exposures to COVID-19. Ninety-five percent of the cases in this category were COVID-19. The second most common injury event was overexertion and bodily movement (24 percent), followed by falls, slips and trips (13 percent).
  • Viruses, including COVID-19, were the source of 41 percent of workplace illness cases in 2020. Other common sources of injury included:  the injured or ill worker (10 percent); persons other than the injured or ill worker (10 percent); and floors, walkways and ground surfaces (9 percent).

State agencies and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compile the survey data. This is the primary source of workplace injury and illness statistics at the state and national levels. DLI collects injury and illness records from randomly sampled Minnesota establishments in the private and public sectors (excluding federal agencies). Approximately 3,500 establishments provided usable responses for the 2020 survey.

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