Workplace injury and illness rates declined in 2000 to their lowest levels since the 1970s, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (LBS).

Although the number of injuries and illness cases remained basically unchanged from 1999, the number of hours worked rose by 2 percent, resulting in a lower injury and illness rate of 6.1 cases per 100 workers. Of particular interest to processors: Injury and illness rates in the manufacturing sector also continued to decline.

However, manufacturing still had the highest injury/illness incidence rate in 2000 ¿ 9.0 cases per 100 full-time workers ¿ among goods-producing industries.

Of the 5.7 million non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2000, 5.3 million were injuries, according to BLS. Injury rates were higher for mid-size establishments (50 to 249 workers) than for smaller or larger establishments. Of the 362,500 newly reported cases of occupational illnesses in private industry, manufacturing accounted for about 60 percent of them.

Disorders associated with repeated trauma, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and noise-induced hearing loss, accounted for 4 percent of the 5.7 million total workplace injuries and illnesses. Sixty-eight percent of repeated trauma cases were in manufacturing industries.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said that overall the data amounted to good news. "We must keep improving upon this positive trend...through proper enforcement of health and safety standards, as well as OSHA's model compliance assistance program," she said.