According to the 2012 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010 amounted to $51.1 billion in direct US workers compensation costs.
The annual Workplace Safety Index uses information from Liberty Mutual workers compensation insurance claims, the US bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Academy of Social Insurance to identify the leading causes of serious non-fatal workplace injuries. Based off the injury-event definitions developed by the BLS, the researchers collect data from employers, and rank those injuries according to total workers compensation costs.
The top 10 causes of disabling injuries and their direct costs in 2010:
- Overexertion injuries at $13.6 billion: These are injuries due to excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, and throwing activities at work.
- Fall on same level at $8.6 billion: These are injuries associated with slipping/tripping while on the same level. These types of injuries generally occur from wet floors or foreign objects on the floor that would cause one to slip or trip.
- Bodily reaction at $5.78 billion: Reaction injuries are caused from bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling.
- Fall to lower level at $5.12 billion: As it sounds, these are injuries that happen from an elevated area. Roofs, ladders, and stairways are common areas of fall from heights injuries and may also be the result of faulty equipment.
- Struck by object at $4.10 billion: The most common of these types of injuries are from objects that fall from shelves or are dropped by another person. Typically, these result in head injuries.
- Struck against object at $2.11 billion: These are generally the result of someone walking into a static object and can result in head, knee, neck, and foot injuries.
- Repetitive motion at $2.02 billion: These injuries are the result of any repetitive motion and can range from typing to loading a truck. There is a wide range of injuries that can result from repetitive motion including muscle and tendon strains, back pain, vision problems, and cumulative trauma disorder.
- Highway Incidents at $1.99 billion: Any occupation that requires someone to get behind the wheel is an added risk associated with their job.
- Caught in/compressed by at $1.79 billion: Machine entanglement injuries typically occur in a factory where heavy equipment and machinery are used. Loose clothing, shoes, jewelry, fingers and unbound hair may become caught in machinery.
- Assault/violent act at $0.64 billion: These are direct attacks caused against one-another in the workplace. They are typically caused by office politics and other personal arguments.
Good News — Bad News
These ten categories made up 89.9 percent of the entire costs associated with disabling work-related injuries in 2010. Maybe the most alarming statistic is from the fall on same level category, which has seen an increase in costs of nearly two billion dollars since 1998.
Two categories are seeing a nice decline though. Repetitive motion injuries have had decreased in costs by almost one billion dollars, and highway incident decreased by half a billion.
The sad truth about all these injuries is they are preventable. With the right training, equipment, and most importantly, the right safety culture, workplace injuries are preventable. It takes a dedication from the leaders in the organization and a commitment from everyone in the workplace to start a culture that believes all injuries are preventable. Accidents will happen, but a prepared and in-tune employee is always ready to respond when an accident does happen, reducing the risk of injury to themselves and others.