The rate of workplace injuries and illnesses in private industry declined in 2006 for the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers declined from 4.6 cases per 100 workers in 2005 to 4.4 cases in 2006.

Among the goods-producing sector of private industry, manufacturing experienced especially significant lower rates of illnesses last year – dropping from 66.1 in 2005 to 57.7 per 10,000 workers in 2006.

"Workplace injuries and illnesses declined three percent in 2006 over the previous year against the backdrop that overall hours worked increased (two percent)," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The Department of Labor continues to focus on ensuring that workplace injury and illnesses rates continue to decline and that workers are healthy and safe on the job."

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. said, "The BLS report – showing the lowest rates since the Labor Department began collecting data in 1972 – confirms that OSHA’s consistent emphasis on prevention is paying off with lower on-the-job injuries and illnesses. This report encourages us to continue our balanced strategy of fair and effective enforcement of standards, accident prevention education and cooperative programs with labor and industry."

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 38,000 inspections last year and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last seven years. In fiscal year 2006, OSHA found nearly 84,000 violations of its standards and regulations.