Olympia, WA: Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, 64-5-2003, 2003 Aug; :1-81
Objectives: This study describes the state fund workers' compensation claim rates in the food processing industry by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and Washington Industrial Classification (WIC) coding systems. Claim incidence rates, workers' compensation claims costs and yearly trends in claim incidence rates are described utilizing the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) methods for coding injury. Workers' compensation claims for fall injuries, overexertion, machine related injury, noise induced hearing loss and forklift injury were used to establish baseline measures for the Healthy Workplaces Initiative. Washington State workers' compensation claim rates were compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Annual Survey of Occupational Injury and Illness (SOII). Conditions under surveillance by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries' Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program were described for the food processing industry. Methods: We describe Washington State fund accepted workers' compensation claims occurring in the food processing industry from 1994 to 1999. We identified claims associated with food processing SIC and WIC codes and generated claims' rates utilizing hours reported to workers' compensation for insurance premium purposes. ANSI codes were used to describe the most frequent injuries by the type, nature, body part, and source codes. Direct costs to the workers' compensation system were determined and presented for the above conditions. ANSI codes were combined to describe injuries related to falls, forklift injuries, overexertion, injuries related to machinery and noise induced hearing loss. Results: Using SIC codes, between 1994 and 1999, there were 16,367 state fund accepted workers compensation claims in food processing (SIC 20) resulting in $65.9 million in direct workers' compensation costs. The average annual claim rate was 1,877 claims per 10,000 full time equivalent (FTE) employees, with an average annual decrease in the claims rate by - 3.58% (95% CI: -4.51%; -2.65%). This did not differ significantly from trends in workers' compensation claim rates for all of manufacturing SICs excluding food processing and trends in claim rates for all industries combined. State fund claims rates in food processing exceeded claim rates in all other industries combined by approximately 50 percent. The most common nature of injury claims were for sprains, cuts, and contusions. The most common type of injury claims were for overexertion and falls. The most frequent body parts injured were fingers, back and the hand. The frequency of most injuries was low necessitating multiple interventions to attempt to reduce injury rates in this industry. The application of the best practices identified through the Healthy Workplaces Initiative regarding machine guarding, manual handling, forklift operation, fall prevention and noise control have the potential to reduce serious injury and illness if applied in the food processing industry. Many factors complicate the comparison between injury and illness rates reported to the Washington State workers' compensation system and those reported to the Washington State BLS SOII. Twelve of 14 SIC injury rates derived from workers' compensation were outside of the 95% confidence interval generated for injury rate estimates from the BLS SOII. Reasons for this discordance are discussed. Using WIC coding, between 1994 and 1999, there were 34,039 state fund accepted workers compensation claims in Washington State food processing WIC codes resulting in $131.3 million in direct workers' compensation costs. The average annual claims rate was 2,144 claims per 10,000 FTEs, with an average annual decrease in the claim rate by - 4.11% (95% CI: -5.19%; -3.02%), which did not differ significantly from trends in claim rates for all industries combined. By nature of injury claims were most common for sprains, cuts, and contusions while by type of injury the most common claims were for overexertion and falls. The most frequent body parts injured were fingers, back and the eye. Risk class analysis may lead to more refined injury rate estimates related to occupational tasks associated with food processing than SIC code analysis. Conclusions: This descriptive study suggests that claim rates in food processing decreased over the study period, but were not significantly different than decreases in claim rates in all manufacturing SICs or in all industries combined. If best practices identified in the Healthy Workplace Initiative are implemented, the potential for significant reduction in workers' compensation claim costs and workers' compensation claim rates may occur. There is poor comparability between BLS rates and workers' compensation rates of injury and illness in the food processing SIC codes.
SHARP Program, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, PO Box 44330, Olympia, WA 98504-4330