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Allegations of Undercounting in the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

John W. Ruser


Recent external studies find that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), based on employers' OSHA logs, substantially underestimates the US total number of workplace injuries and illnesses. This paper describes four dimensions of the undercount allegations and summarizes the recent studies, which have largely compared aggregate or case-level data from various sources, augmented in the case-level studies with capture-recapture analysis. The paper provides an overview of on-going research conducted and funded by BLS to better understand the nature of the undercount findings. These studies include counting work-related amputations and carpal tunnel syndrome cases with multiple data sources; matching SOII to workers' compensation records; and, interviewing employers about reporting practices on OSHA logs and to workers' compensation.