RALEIGH, N.C. – A new federal study estimating the rate of workplace injuries last year finds North and South Carolina among the country’s safest in which to work.

But some workplace safety experts doubt whether the rates accurately reflect which states are safer.

North Carolina’s rate of injuries or illnesses at private companies dropped to a historic low in 2009 of 3.1 cases per 100 full-time workers, compared with 3.4 cases in 2008, the state’s Labor Department said Thursday. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the injury rate in South Carolina was 3.2 cases per 100 workers last year, compared to 3.1 in 2008.

Injury rates in both states were near the country’s lowest, along with Texas, Louisiana, Virginia and New York. The states with favorable rates include those like Texas and Louisiana regulated by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration and those that run their own workplace safety programs, like North and South Carolina.

Workplace injuries have been falling nationwide for at least seven years, figures show.