Accident records and injury statistics have become important tools not only for the Safety and Loss Prevention Department but for the Underwriting Departments of insurance companies as well.
Of course, the mere collection of statistics serves no purpose at all if the end product is not carefully studied and then used in some practical way. The safety specialist or safety engineer can distill the statistical findings and, after drawing conclusions, apply the results to an individual firm, industry across the board. The aim, obviously, is to reduce both the frequency and the severity of accidents.
In studying the records, safety men look for roots. What is the cause of accidents? What kinds of accidents are common? What are the danger spots in any particular industry? Is there any pattern for industrial accidents? What is the relationship of accidents to skilled or unskilled labor? How prevalent is the defective condition in industry? How many accidents result from poor housekeeping? How many from carelessness? How many from inadequate supervision?
The engineering skill and the safety know-how of a workmen’s compensation insurance company can go a long way in correcting both the blatant and the subtle hazards but it is necessary that the statistics they use as their basis for recommendation are accurate and complex.
Recently, alert underwriters have begun to make more use of accident statistics as a guide in determining the desirability of a given risk or in accepting any volume of business in a particularly high frequency or high severity industry. Acceptance of such risks as far as the underwriter is concerned may well be dependent upon the willingness of management to accept engineering changes in plant or production methods.
Aside from the statistics on accidents which might be collected by any given company on its own insurers, there are some states which make available accident statistics on a state-wide basis. The New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics, for example, publishes an annual report on “Injury Rates, New York State Industries.”
This study reports the frequency of work injuries in each of some 300 manufacturing industries. The number varies from year to year. The statistics are broken down geographically between New York and its contiguous countries and the rest of the state. It rates the safety quotient of industries by accident frequency per million man-hours. It also gives details on injury severity. The figures are collected by means of a questionnaire sent to some of the state. The report is extensive and includes more than 40 detailed tables.