Anyone who thinks the BLS injury and illness data are accurate, please let me know, so I can mock and ridicule you. Every one of us who have ever reviewed OSHA 300 logs (or OSHA 200 logs for us old farts) knows that there are all kinds of mistakes on the logs. Note that I said mistakes, not intentional omissions.
We all know the big cases, Landis Plastics ($640k worth in 1997) and Saw Pipes ($536k worth in 2001) to name but two, yet in over 20 years with the agency I have never found a company that intentionally left injuries off their 200/300 logs. Does that mean that companies don't hide injuries? Obviously not, in fact I think my situation is a bizarre statistical oddity. Conversely, I've never found a company that filled out their logs error free either. Kind of an interesting dichotomy, no?
In all of the inspections where I have done a detailed review of the injury/illness records, by far the most common mistake is misreporting the number days lost/restricted. Once in awhile, maybe once every 15 inspections or so, I might find an injury that wasn't recorded, but never intentionally (at least as far as I could prove). I've also probably found as many instances of over-recording as under-recording. Those of you who have found cases of underreporting, how many times have you found over-reporting? Track it some time and see if it doesn't come close to balancing out.
What am I suggesting? I guess I'm saying is that, while I think the lost/restricted days data is probably way under reported and not very reliable, the incidence rates are probably reasonably close. Why is this distinction so important, you may ask? Because much of our targeting is based on incidence rates and usually when we look at trends, we almost always look at incidence rate trends, not lost time trends.
As hard as it may be for some people to swallow, I think the drop in injury and ergonomic rates that Foulke, et. al., reported is probably real.