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Top 10 Causes and Costs of Workplace Injuries

Julie Copeland

Posted by
CEO


According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries amounted to nearly $62 billion in direct U.S. workers compensation costs, with the top 10 causes equaling $51.06 billion or 82.5 percent of the total cost burden. This translates into more than $1 billion per week spent by businesses on these injuries.

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The top five injury causes – overexertion, falls on same level, falls to lower level, struck by object or equipment and other exertions or bodily reactions accounted for 64.8 percent of the total cost burden. The remaining five injury causes combined accounted for 17.7 percent of the total direct cost.


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Here is a Breakdown of the Top 10 Causes and Costs of Workplace Injuries:

1) Overexertion - $15.08 billion

This category includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing objects and accounted for nearly a quarter of the national burden. An important step to prevent these types of injuries is to use ergonomics, the science of adjusting the job to fit the body’s needs. Ergonomics provides injury prevention solutions that are simple and relatively inexpensive. Some of these solutions include, requiring frequent short breaks for workers assigned repetitive motion tasks, providing manual of mechanical lifting equipment and varying worker’s tasks.


2) Falls on Same Level - $10.17 billion

Falls from the same level is defined as a fall to the same walking or working surface or a fall into or against objects above the same surface. These injuries accounted for 16.4 percent of the total injury burden. These types of falls are the most common and according to the CDC make up 65% of fall-related injuries. The most common injuries include fractures and broken bones in the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand. Some steps you can take to prevent these injuries include providing the proper fall protection equipment, establishing safe walking practices and training employees to recognize fall hazards.


3) Falls to Lower Level - $5.40 billion

Falls to lower level involve a fall to a level below walking or working surface. These falls result in more serious injuries and even death, and accounted for 8.7 percent of the total injury burden. Over 60% of all elevated falls are from a height of less than 10 feet. To protect employees, you should provide guard rails and toe-boards as well as harnesses, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails where applicable.


4) Struck by Object or Equipment - $5.31 billion

Struck by injuries are caused by objects that are falling, flying, swinging or rolling and in these scenarios a worker is stripped of their ability to see these objects coming towards them with enough time to react and can result in serious injury or even death. Struck by injuries accounted for 8.6 percent of the total cost burden and are one of the highest causes of workplace fatalities. Some of the keys to prevent these incidents include wearing the proper equipment (goggles, face shields, hard hats etc.), ensuring your workplace is compliant, placing the proper signage and building awareness of potential dangers.

 

5) Other Exertions or Bodily Reactions - $4.15 billion

Other exertions or bodily reactions can happen on just about any kind of job, and accounted for 6.7 percent of the total cost burden. This class of injuries refers to accidents that are brought about by free bodily motion and involve things like reaching, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling, bending, standing and climbing. These incidents are usually non-impact and are often the result of repetitive motion or a reaction to a specific event or incident.

6) Roadway Incidents Involving Motorized Land Vehicle - $2.96 billion

These types of incidents involve accidents that occur either on the roadway or non-roadway such as tractor overturn in a farm field. Roadway incidents accounted for 4.8 percent of the total cost burden, and can be extremely dangerous and fatal. Many of these incidents occur in work zones and can lead to the death or workers, drivers or pedestrians. It is important to implement policies and procedures that support safe driving behaviors, reduce distracted driving and prevent impaired driving among employees.

7) Slip or Trip Without Fall - $2.35 billion

Slips and trips without fall accounted for 3.8 percent of the total cost burden. Slips happen where there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and walking surface and trips happen when your foot collides with an object or uneven surface. Both slips and trips result from some kind of unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground or surface. Practicing good housekeeping, ensuring floors aren’t slippery and providing the proper footwear and adequate lighting are all steps you can take to protect employees.

8) Caught in / Compressed by Equipment or Objects - $1.97 billion

These types of accidents accounted for 3.2 percent of the total cost burden and often result from accidents with heavy machinery. These accidents occur when a worker’s body part is caught, crushed, squeezed, compressed or pinched between two or more objects. Some ways to prevent these incidents include shutting down equipment before doing repairs or inspections, chocking the wheels on equipment that could move or roll and making sure guards are in place and secured after servicing equipment.

9) Struck Against Object or Equipment - $1.85 billion

Struck Against injuries accounted for 3.0 percent of the total cost burden. Struck against refers to incidents where a worker hits an object or equipment. Examples include, running into an overhead pipe, corner, vehicle or other person. Some of the injuries that can result are small sprains, broken bones or fractures, head and brain injuries, elbow or shoulder injuries and lower leg injuries. To prevent these injuries, you should ensure employees are properly aware of hazards and clearly mark with proper signage any potential dangers. Another key is to ensure equipment is well maintained by performing regular maintenance and inspections.

10) Repetitive Motions Involving Micro-Tasks - $1.82 billion

These types of injuries accounted for 2.9 percent of the total cost burden and are commonly referred to as repetitive stress injuries. They are the result of performing tasks over and over and are the fastest growing category of workplace injuries. Repetitive work with no breaks and constant typing and clicking can strain muscles and tendons resulting in nagging injuries that can lead to crippling pain. It is important to ensure workers are aware of the dangers these injuries present and to take proper breaks including stopping work when pain or discomfort arises.

Workplace injuries are painful for employees and put a significant financial strain on your business. Many organizations have taken measures to lower their incident rates including, forming safety committees, investing in the proper protective equipment, performing ongoing safety training and conducting safety assessments. Despite these efforts incident rates have hit a wall or plateaued, with rates rising for the first time since 2010.

One way to breakthrough this safety plateau is to invest in technology that can give you the intelligence to take a proactive instead of reactive approach to preventing injuries in your workplace. Arbill’s, Vantage Predictive Analytics is that solution. Learn more about Vantage and see how it will help reduce injuries, worker’s comp claims and the associated costs.

Have a Safe Day!  

Topics: workplace injury, workplace safety, safety costs

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