Boston, MA: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Technical Report: OHSP 09-1, 2009 May; :1-23
More than 100,000 women and men are employed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in over 1,000 state-agency establishments, ranging from hospitals and other health care facilities, correctional facilities, universities and colleges, to public administration buildings, and community sites. These men and women make up more than 3% of the Commonwealth's workforce. A new Governor's initiative is underway to identify and reduce workplace health and safety risks faced by employees of the Commonwealth. Better information about the extent, types, and causes of work-related injuries and illnesses among state employees is needed to target, design and evaluate prevention efforts. This report provides information about serious occupational injuries and illnesses among state workers using workers' compensation claims records submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents in 2005. 1) 1,705 workers' compensation claims for work-related injuries and illness resulting in five or more days of lost work-time were filed for Massachusetts state public sector employees from all three branches of government in 2005, giving a rate of 16.9 claims per 1,000 full time workers. 2) Healthcare related occupations were the most common occupation reported (36%), the majority of which were specifically "community and social service workers" (predominantly mental retardation and mental health workers). Protection service occupations were the second most common type of occupation (21%), the majority of which were corrections officers, followed by blue-collar-type occupations (e.g. construction production, maintenance, agricultural occupations) (12.1%). 3) The leading cause of injuries and illnesses identified from these 1,705 claims was bodily reaction and exertion (29%), with the sub-category of overexertion being most common. a) Examples of overexertion include that from lifting, pulling or pushing, and holding, carrying, or turning. At least half of the overexertion cases were reported to be related to patient handling activities (e.g. transfer or lifting). b) Mental retardation workers as well as building and grounds keeping and maintenance workers most commonly experienced injuries and illnesses due to overexertion. 4) The second leading cause of injuries and illnesses was assault and violence (25%). More than half of these cases involved interaction with a patient and nearly one in three involved interaction with a prison inmate. a) Corrections officers as well as mental health workers most commonly experienced injuries and illnesses due to assaults and violent acts. b) Sprains and strains (39%) were the most common type of injury followed by contusions, crushing, and bruises (23%), and fractures (5.4%). 5) How does the rate of work-related injuries and illnesses among Commonwealth state public sector compare with that of its private sector? a) This is currently unknown. The rate of five-day lost work-time worker's compensation claims among private sector employees in Massachusetts is not available. In 2008, work-related injury and illness data were collected for the first time by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from a national sample of public sector employers as part of the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). In future years, statespecific data on public sector workers will be available from the BLS that can be compared to BLS SOII data that are routinely collected from private sector employers in the Commonwealth. 6) How does the rate of work-related injuries and illnesses among Commonwealth state public sector compare with that of public sectors in other states? a) While there are some data on work-related injuries and illnesses among public sector workers in other states, data on five-day lost-work time injuries and illnesses that can be directly compared with findings in this report are not readily available. b) Available data from New York State, however, suggest that Massachusetts state public sector workers have a lower rate of injuries and illnesses as compared to counterparts in New York. In 2007-2008, New York State Executive Branch employees experienced a six day lost work-time workers compensation claims rate of 26 claims per 1,000 full time workers. The Massachusetts Executive Branch five-day lost work-time rate was 18 claims per 1,000 full time workers. c) It should be noted that any comparisons of rates between states or between public and private sectors within states are crude and do not account for factors which may impact the occurrence, identification, and reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses. For example, it is important to take into account the distributions of the workforce by industry and demographic characteristics in making these comparisons. As Massachusetts takes steps to enhance the health and safety of the Commonwealth's employees, on-going review of information about where and how workers are injured or made ill on the job will be essential to guide prevention efforts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is currently collaborating with the Human Resources Division (HRD) within the Executive Office of Administration and Finance to make additional data available on work-related injuries and illnesses among state employees. Tracking injury and illness trends over time will enable agencies and offices to monitor their progress in meeting injury and illness reduction goals.
Occupational-health; Surveillance-programs; Information-systems; Information-retrieval-systems; Occupations; Risk-factors; Work-environment; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Health-protection; Statistical-analysis; Disabled-workers; Lost-work-days; Health-care; Health-care-personnel; Medical-personnel; Mental-health; Service-industries; Correctional-facilities; Construction-workers; Maintenance-workers; Agricultural-workers; Physical-capacity; Physiological-response; Manual-lifting; Manual-materials-handling; Behavioral-disorders; Force; Psychological-reactions; Psychological-responses
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108