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Government workers more likely to suffer injuries

Compared to their private sector counterparts, public workers are more likely to suffer workplace injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 workplace injuries and illnesses befell private sector workers at a rate of just over three percent. However, for the same time period, public sector employees suffered illnesses and injuries at a rate of five percent. Of those injuries and illnesses, nearly 80 percent were among local government workers.

These statistics are not entirely surprising given the fact that the nature of many public jobs is inherently more dangerous than most private sector occupations. However, according to Governing Magazine, public workers are more at risk of suffering an illness or injury than private sector workers employed in the same industries. The greatest difference was noted among employees working in nursing and at residential care facilities. State government employees in that field suffered an incidence rate six percent higher than employees in the private sector. Other industries that reported high rates of injuries and illnesses were police and fire protection, heavy and civil engineering construction, and manufacturing.

The median number of days missed for government workers in 2011 due to injury or illness was eight. The kinds of injuries sustained by public employees varied depending upon the occupation. The most common were the result of:

  • Overexertion
  • Slips and trips
  • Falls
  • Contact with objects or equipment

The good news is that rates of injury have not increased in recent years. In fact, for some occupations, significant declines have been reported. In particular, fire protection employees have seen a substantial decrease in injuries, as have utility workers.

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