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More than 97,000 workers in Virginia suffered a reportable job-related illness or injury in 2008, according to the latest annual report of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. Diseases caused by exposures to toxic substances or working in extreme weather must be reported to the agency, as must injuries that occur as a result of slips, falls, equipment misuse or malfunction or traffic accidents while driving on business.

Workplace illnesses and injuries declined from 2007. A somewhat surprising finding, however, was that the accident and sickness rate for state employees far outstripped the rate for private sector employees. Nearly 5 percent of state workers suffered reportable illnesses or injuries, while just 3 percent of nongovernment workers did so.

The large majority of injuries and illnesses Virginia workers suffered last year were nonfatal. But, as reports last week of a deadly fall at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard show, many jobs pose serious risks to the men and women who do them. The apparent increase in Virginia workplace safety is most welcome, but the only acceptable annual number for job-related health problems would be zero.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.


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