[T]he Bureau of Labor Statistics released 2010 rates of injury and illness in the American work force, and once again state and local government workers on average missed far more days from illness and injury per worker than workers in the private sector. . . .
Some of these higher rates might be attributable to more dangerous jobs in the public sector, especially public safety jobs. And indeed, the BLS' detailed tables do show much higher injury and absentee rates for workers engaged in "justice, public order and safety activities." But even construction workers working for local government have a much higher rate of injury and illness (9.5 cases per 100 workers) than private construction workers (4.0 per 100 workers). So do public school education workers, who record 4.9 injuries and illnesses per 100 workers, compared to just 2.2 per 100 among private education workers.
Of course, in some places, public sector workers enjoy more generous sick time and richer disability benefits than private workers, which may explain some of the difference. Incentives matter, including those that pay you not to work.